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FEBRUARY 23, 1994 

Serial No. J-103-43 

Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary 





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ISBN 0-16-046929-5 

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FEBRUARY 23, 1994 

Serial No. J-103-43 

Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary 


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*-398CC __^_^. WASHINCTON • IQQ.^ 


APR 2 2 20i 




For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-046929-5 


EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts 
HERBERT KOHL, Wisconsin 

Cynthia C. Hogan, Chief Counsel 

Catherine M. Russell, Staff Director 

Sharon Prost, Minority Chief Counsel 

Mark R. Disler, Minority Staff Director 

Jr., Delaware, Chairman 
ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania 
HANK BROWN, Colorado 

Subcommittee 'on the Juvenile Justice 

HERBERT KOHL, Wisconsin, Chairman 
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware WILLL^M S. COHEN, Maine 


Jon Leibowitz, Chief Counsel and Staff Director 
KiM Corthell, Minority Staff Director 




Kohl, Hon. Herbert, a U.S. Senator from the State of Wisconsin 1 

Cohen, Hon. WiUiam S., a U.S. Senator from the State of Maine 2 

Moseley-Braun, Hon. Carol, a U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois 4 


Hon. Maxine Waters, a U.S. Representative from the State of California 7 

Panel consisting of C. Delores Tucker, chair, National Pohtical Congress 
of Black Women; Robert T.M. Phillips, deputy medical director, American 
Psychiatric Association; Michael Eric Dyson, professor of American Civiliza- 
tion and Afro-American Studies, Brown University; Ron Stallworth, gang 
intelligence coordinator, Utah Department of Public Safety; and Darryl 
James, founder, Rap Sheet 11 

Panel consisting of Hilary Rosen, executive vice president. Recording Industry 
Association of America; Steve McKeever, executive vice president of Talent 
and Creative Affairs, Motown Records; Nicholas Butterworth, executive 
director. Rock the Vote Action Project; and David W. Harleston, president. 
Rush Associated Labels 59 

Panel consisting of Dionne Warwick, singer; Laura Murphy Lee, director, 
Washington Office, American Civil Liberties Union; Wallace R. Bradley, 
co-founder, No Dope Express; Errol Kenya James, National Coordinating 
Committee, Black Student Leadership Network; and Keith A. Ridley, IV, 
president and general manager, Ridley Funeral Establishment, Incor- 
porated, Washington, DC 85 


Bradley, Wallace R.: Testimony 97 

Butterworth, Nicholas: 

Testimony 67 

Prepared statement 69 

Dyson, Michael Eric: 

Testimony 21 

Prepared statement 25 

Harleston, David W.: Testimony 71 

James, Darryl: Testimony 51 

James, Errol Kenya: 

Testimony 100 

Prepared statement 101 

McKeever, Steve: Testimony 64 

Murphy Lee, Laura: 

Testimony 87 

Prepared statement 90 

PhiUips, Robert T.M.: 

Testimony 14 

Prepared statement 18 

Ridley, Keith A.: Testimony 102 

Rosen, Hilary: 

Testimony 59 

Prepared statement 62 

Stallworth, Ron: 

Testimony 34 

Prepared statement 36 




Tucker, C. Delores: Testimony 11 

Warwick, Dionne: Testimony 85 


Additional Submissions for the Record 

Letter from Lester Swartz, Toledo, OH to: 

Senator Herbert Kohl, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, Feb. 28, 1994 107 

Ms. Kathy Poston, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, Feb. 24, 1994 108 

Letter to Senator Moseley-Braun, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, from Harry 
Allen, hip-hop activist and media assassin, GPO Box, New York, NY, Feb. 

21, 1994 Ill 

Various articles by Harry Allen from: 

Essence Magazine, '^Hip-Hop Madness," April 1989 114 

The City Sun, "THE BLACK BOX, Hip-HOp: The New Jazz," Feb. 

17-23, 1988 120 

New York Newsday, "If You Think Rap Is Violent, What About 

Booze?", Jan. 7, 1994 121 

Letter to Jamie Schwing, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, from Michael 
Lieberman, associate director/counsel, Anti-Defamation League, Washing- 
ton, DC, Mar. 4, 1994 122 

An ADL specisd report: 

Hip to Hate 122 

Sounds of Hate 125 

Appendix A, skinhead bands Usted in the catalogues of Rock-0-Rama 

records (ROR) and Independent Schallplatten Vertrieb (ISV) 129 

Appendix B, skinhead-related homicides in the United States 130 



U.S. Senate, 
Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, 

Committee on the Judiciary, 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:40 a.m., in room 
SD-106, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Herbert Kohl, chair- 
man of the subcommittee, presiding. 

Also present: Senator Moseley-Braun, and Cohen. 


Senator Kohl. Good morning. We welcome you here this morn- 
ing to this hearing and it will come to order. 

Our topic for today is gangster rap and other popular music that 
is violent, racist, antisemitic, sexually graphic, or demeaning to- 
ward women. As we begin, I would like to commend Senator Carol 
Moseley-Braun for initiating this hearing, one that continues the 
subcommittee's investigation of violence in our society and how 
modem media may be contributing to it. Senator Moseley-Braun 
and her staff have worked diligently to put this hearing together 
and she deserves our appreciation for her leadership. When I have 
to leave shortly for another appointment, I will turn the gavel over 
to Senator Moseley-Braun. 

Let me take a few moments, though, to enumerate the major is- 
sues as I see them. First, today's hearing has created controversy 
because it concerns so-called gangster rap, which is a form of rap 
music invented by and for the most part performed by African 
American musicians. But while this particular style of music has 
received the bulk of the media attention, it is clear that the prob- 
lem of violent and explicit music extends much further. 

Many forms of rock and heavy metal music performed largely by 
white artists delivers the same ugly message and, in fact, most rap 
music is not violent and much of it reflects reality. So it is not just 
rappers and some record company executives who ought to be 
ashamed of what they are teaching our children. It is also every 
other self-proclaimed artist who distorts reality and promotes vio- 
lence as a way to make a dollar. 

At the outset, then, we need to set the record straight. We are 
concerned about the content of the messages and not the color of 
the messengers, and anyone who views this issue differently is see- 
ing it through clouded lenses. 


Second, as we have learned from our recent debate about video 
game and television violence, constant exposure to violent and ex- 
plicit material clearly causes harm to our children, and the bad 
acts of just a few members of any industry can poison the public's 
perception of the whole group. So we are here to discuss what, if 
any, steps the music industry wants to take to minimize the impact 
of violent music on our kids and minimize public anger toward the 

In my mind, that may mean developing an independent rating 
system along the lines of what the motion picture industry has 
done and what the video game industry is doing right now at this 
subcommittee's insistence. We look forward to hearing the wit- 
nesses' views on this approach. 

Most of us believe that if the recording industry makes this issue 
a top priority, then it will move toward a solution, and that is what 
should happen. The industry ought to address this problem itself 
before the Government intrudes too deeply and raises the specter 
of censorship. 

In fairness, let me point out that the music industry is not the 
only or even a major cause of the carnage that we confront in our 
large cities and in our small towns across our country. As we all 
know, there are many other causes — poverty, too easy access to 
firearms, inferior education, broken families, gangs and drugs. But 
that is no excuse for ignoring the impact of violent images on our 
kids, nor for neglecting our obligation as citizens to help improve 
rather than to denigrate our society. 

We are all in this together. Anything that may encourage our 
children to participate in violence just to make a dollar needs to 
be addressed, and we have to find a way to reduce the influences 
that are so ruinous to our children because if we do not take a 
close, hard look at what we are actually buying for our kids, then 
we will become a society that we do not want to live in. 

Senator Cohen? 


Senator COHEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to 
associate myself with the remarks that you have just made. I have 
a formal statement I would like to introduce in the record, but will 
offer just a few comments. 

I think for me, at least, words have always had consequences. 
We learned in Orwell's 1984 that the debasement of language is a 
precursor to a debasement of values. If you repeat words long 
enough, even if they are lies, they take on the aroma or the appear- 
ance or the patina of truth. Therefore, you could say over and over 
again hate is love, war is peace, slavery is freedom, and 2 + 2 = 
5 or 6, or whatever the Government says it should equal. So words 
have consequences if they are repeated often enough. 

I finished reading last night Nathan McHale's book. Makes Me 
Want to Holler, and I was struck by his statement that he really 
hadn't turned to a life of drug-selling or drug-dealing until he saw 
the film "Superfly," and suddenly that became his hero and he de- 
cided that was the way to personal respect and prosperity. 

Chairman Kohl, you have pointed out not all rap songs involve 
the denigration of women, and of black women, in particular. But 
according to the lyrics of some rap songs, every woman is simply 
a ho, nothing more than a cavity that has got to be either ripped 
or filled by a train, a gang rape. 

Some of the witnesses today, I suspect, are going to testify that 
this is simply a reflection of life as it is in the ghetto, of attitudes, 
or should I say values in the ghetto or in the hood, and that every 
such expression is simply art, or rarified into art, and therefore 
protected by the Constitution. 

It is my own view that a few rappers are getting very rich and 
a few record companies are getting even richer. Frankly, they don't 
care whether generations of young people, mostly black or other 
minorities, are sliding into moral bankmptcy or the local morgues. 
They are just telling it and selling it like it is. Now, that is not me 
saying this. I noted with some interest yesterday a column in the 
Washington Post written by Donna Britt and she talked about a 
young girl who grew up in a nice home, nice parents, nice private 
school, attended the nicest of Detroit colleges, et cetera. For a cou- 
ple of years, she was really nice, sweet as pie, they say. 

In concert and on albums, she is not so nice — rap stuff like "I 
don't give a," expletive deleted, "about any of you" to appreciative 
fans; poses with automatic weapons, sings "They wonder why they 
label me insane because I loaded the clip and took a nine to the 
copper's brain." She and her girl tried rapping nice, but nice gets 
no respect, makes no bank, gets no contracts. Producers, she said, 
"Were telling us we didn't curse enough. No one signed Boss up. 
Nineties people know all there is about getting signed up. Once, 
women slept around to get famous. Now, they just brag about 
snuffing folks. Hear us roar," and it goes on. 

So some people are going to the bank, and a lot of kids are going 
to the morgue. 

It is somewhat ironic that we are celebrating Black Month this 
month. There is a new book out. Encyclopedia of Black Women in 
History which is an extraordinary volume. On the cover of Time 
Magazine this week is a picture of Louis Farrakhan and in it are 
stories about Mr. Farrakhan and one of his aides, Khalid Abdul 
Muhammad, who, of course, has attacked Jews, Catholics, homo- 
sexuals, the white community. 

I wondered as I was reading this article again last evening if the 
recording industry would think that his message of telling it like 
it is, as he sees it, should be put on tape and marketed because, 
according to Time Magazine, many blacks now believe that Mr. 
Farrakhan speaks for them. It seems to me the difference between 
Mr. Farrakhan's message of hate and that of some of the rappers, 
not all, but some of the rappers, is that the rappers are only de- 
grading black women and not the greater society at large. 

So I come here with some, not apprehension, but at least a sense 
of ambiguity as to what the role of the recording industry ought to 
be, what the role of Government ought to be, but at least I think 
willing to listen to the voices of the people who really live on the 
front lines and come from the hood or who come from poverty, who 
have experienced racism, who are, in fact, artists, who do speak for 
many, many people out there who are disadvantage and deprived 

and oppressed, and to listen to what they have to say as to what 
the correct course of action is. 

I appreciate your holding the hearing. I want to commend my 
colleague, Senator Moseley-Braun. She has really done a great deal 
to raise everyone's consciousness about the need to address this 

Thank you very much. 

[The prepared statement of Senator Cohen was not available at 
press time.] 


Senator KOHL. Senator Moseley-Braun? 

Senator Moseley-Braun [presiding]. Thank you very much. I 
want to begin, ]VIr. Chairman, by thanking you for agreeing to hold 
this hearing. Since joining this subcommittee, I have been deeply 
impressed by your dedication to the children of America, dem- 
onstrated by your legislation to ban the possession of handguns by 
minors and more recently by your efforts to keep violent and 
misogynistic video games out of the hands of young children. 

Many of the issues that were raised in the context of video games 
apply here also; namely, what effect, if any, do brutally violent, 
vulgar and sexist music lyrics have on our Nation's children, and 
what, if anything, are we, those of us who are adults in Congress, 
in the industry and in society, prepared to do about it. 

As anyone who watches the news or picks up a paper is aware, 
violence is quickly becoming this Nation's number one public 
health problem. Nowhere is this problem more pronounced than 
among our Nation's children. Childhood for all too many has ceased 
to be a time of innocence and instead has become a daily struggle 
to stay alive. Seven-year-old children are gun down on their walk 
to school, while 11-year-olds make plans for their own funerals. 

Of course, the young are no longer merely the victims of violence, 
they are also perpetrators. Between 1987 and 1991, arrests for 
murder among the general population rose 21 percent. However, 
among juveniles, that increase was a shocking 85 percent. 

Even more alarming is the link between violent juvenile crime 
and guns. By 1990, nearly three out of four juvenile murders were 
committed with guns. Juveniles now account for 1 out of every 5 
weapons arrests in the country, and approximately 135,000 stu- 
dents carry guns to school every day. 

The causes for this dramatic escalation in youth crime and vio- 
lence are numerous. Poverty, the breakdown of the family, the lack 
of real education and job opportunities are all issues which have 
to be addressed. But there is another contributing factor that we 
can no longer afford to ignore. As a society, particularly our young 
children are becoming increasingly desensitized to violence. Media 
images of murder, assault and rape bombard us on a daily basis. 
Years of scientific research have demonstrated that the more vio- 
lent television a child views, the more aggressive that child be- 

The influence of music on child development is no less profound. 
According to a 1989 report in the Journal of American Medicine, 
between 7th and 12th grades the average teenager listens to 10,500 

hours of music, an amount of time that is slightly less than the 
number of hours spent in school from kindergarten through high 
school. To deny that this music has an impact on our children is 
not merely naive, it is irresponsible. 

Inevitably, whenever attention is focused on violence in the 
media, whether it be in music or television or video games, many 
in the industry will cry foul and censorship. After all, industry crit- 
ics maintain the recording industry or the television industry or 
the video game industry did not create this epidemic of violence 
that is plaguing our society, and that certainly is true. 

But that does not mean that we can ignore the substantial and 
growing body of scientific research indicating a clear link between 
exposure to violent music and a corresponding increase in violent 
attitudes and behavior. It is simply wrong to say that just because 
there are a number of other causes of violence in the society we 
should ignore the obvious impact of explicit music lyrics. 

Of course, ignoring the evidence is far from unprecedented. The 
tobacco industry has done it for decades, ignoring the original Sur- 
geon General's report and every scientific study since then indicat- 
ing that smoking cigarettes causes cancer. But the tobacco indus- 
try's failure to acknowledge the facts about cigarettes did not make 
those facts any less true. 

I hope, therefore, that we will not spend our time here today de- 
bating whether violence and hate in music lyrics can have an im- 
pact on our children or is a cause for concern. Based on the clear 
and substantial evidence, we have every right to be concerned 
about the messages that are produced and sold for a profit to our 
children. And make no mistake, the bottom line is profit. 

The recording industry earned $10 billion nationwide in 1992. Al- 
though estimates as to what percentage of that figure comes from 
rap music vary, ranging from a low of $780 million to a high of 
$1.37 billion, it is obvious that rap music, like music in general, is 
big business. We read stories where rappers are actually encour- 
aged by people in the music industry to adopt a more violent per- 
sona. One anonymous executive even commented that the recent 
arrest of a musician should assure that his album went platinum. 
We see the millions and millions spent to promote stars who seem 
to compete with one another as to who can be the most violent. We 
see extremely brutal, vulgar and misogynistic music mainstreamed 
across this Nation. 

Obviously, the issue here today involves much more than just the 
right of artists to create and perform the music of violence and 
hate if they so choose. What is at issue is whether the music indus- 
try that makes so much money from these lyrics has a responsibil- 
ity for the type of music it promotes and disseminates. Should the 
question of whether or not an album sells be the only issue that 
concerns the industry, or do those involved in the creation, per- 
formance, promotion, production and distribution of these lyrics 
have any responsibility to all of our children, to all of our families 
and to all of our communities? 

Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to make three final 
points. First, this hearing was not called to condemn all rap music. 
As a matter of fact, the other day I was traveling through O'Hare 
from Chicago coming here and a group of young men came up to 

me — they get younger by the day, by the way, but they came up 
to me pleading not to take away their rap music. Let me assure 
you and assure those young men that that is not my intention. 

Every generation has its own form of music and its own form of 
expression. I strongly believe that rap music is an important and 
diverse art form that often speaks to many Americans in a way 
that no other form of media can. It is a cultural expression for this 
generation, in the main. There are messages in these songs to 
which we all should indeed be listening. Nonetheless, it seems to 
me that there are some who have taken this art form so far and 
are using it simply for shock value and to make money at our chil- 
dren's expense. 

The second thing I would like to point out is that this hearing 
is not just about rap music. Rap music did not invent explicit 
lyrics; it is merely the latest on a long line of music lyrics that glo- 
rify violence and the physical and sexual abuse of women and mi- 

Finally, this hearing is not about government censorship. 
Throughout my career, I have been a strong supporter of the first 
amendment. In fact, I spent 10 years in the Illinois Legislature and 
have a record that is consistent in my support for the first amend- 
ment and my support for speech, for expression and for the arts. 
I am a devotee of the arts and I would be among the first to object 
to the use of government censorship as a solution to violence in the 

But the fact remains that along with rights come responsibilities. 
Those in the industry cannot dodge their responsibilities to society 
and to our children by hiding behind the first amendment. The 
first amendments states that the Government shall make no law 
abridging freedom of speech. It does not say that corporations 
should take no responsibility to monitor the content of material 
they market to the public. Just because something can be sold to 
the public does not necessarily mean that it should, and particu- 
larly I would underscore that message with regard to our children. 
Corporate and personal responsibility underscore the foundation of 
our freedoms, including the freedom of speech and expression. 

I am av/are that the recording industry has taken steps to affix 
a warning label of sorts on some explicit albums. Whether or not 
that label is sufficient is another issue that we can address today. 

Senator Kohl, in closing I would simply like to say that I realize 
that far too many of our children grow up in a world where vio- 
lence is part and parcel of everyday existence. Changing those con- 
ditions is one of the very reasons I ran for the U.S. Senate. I was 
talking just now with one of the photographers and I mentioned to 
her that I decided to run for the Senate when my 16-year-old son 
said to me, you know, mom, your generation has left this world 
worse off than you found it. That was enough of an incentive for 
me to decide to try to make a difference and contribute to this proc- 

To the extent that music lyrics glorify and contribute to that vio- 
lence, we in the Congress have jurisdiction and all of us have a re- 
sponsibility to examine them. Before I end, there is a question I 
would like everyone, but particularly those in the industry, to think 
about. What happens to the child who has been raised on a daily 

diet of brutality, the child who witnesses 8,000 murders before fin- 
ishing elementary school and who, through the use of video games, 
actually murders another human being, ripping out his heart, and 
on top of that listens to music advocating the rape of young women 
and the shooting of other human beings? The effect on that child 
and his or her family is what this hearing was called to address. 

So now, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to call 
the first witness, the Honorable Maxine Waters of California, and 
ask her to have a seat at the table. 

Congress woman Waters, let me say before we start with your ac- 
tual testimony, because we have a long witness list we are going 
to use this control box to limit the time of the testimony. Those 
who are testifying should be aware that the green light tells you 
to go, the yellow is winding down, and the red is the time, hope- 
fully, to stop, but obviously we will extend courtesy to those who 
haven't completed a thought or their statement. But we would like 
to adhere as much as possible to the time frame for this hearing. 
That is the first point. 

Second, there are groups distributing lyrics at this hearing. Ev- 
eryone should be warned that some of them are offensive and some 
of them are explicit, but that this is not an official publication of 
this committee, but rather is a supplement to the testimony being 
given by some of the witnesses. 

So, again, Congresswoman Waters, welcome and thank you for 
coming today. 


Ms. Waters. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Sen- 
ator Moseley-Braun and members of the committee for the oppor- 
tunity to testify at this hearing on the effects of music lyrics on our 
Nation's youth. Our children and our youth are our Nation's most 
valuable resource. Simply put, they are our future. They are our 
sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, grandsons, granddaughters. 

I want to talk today about rap music, particularly gangster rap. 
It is a music form that originated in Los Angeles, a portion of 
which I represent in Congress. It was born out of the frustration 
and hopelessness, the raw energy and alienation among young peo- 
ple that also gave rise to the rebellion 22 months ago. 

These are my children. Indeed, they are your children, too. They 
have invented this art form originally to describe their pains and 
fears and anger with us as adults. I do not intend to marginalize 
them or demean them. Rather, I take responsibility for trying to 
understand what they are saying. I want to find a way to embrace 
them and to transform them. 

We cannot look at the children and young people growing up 
without a future and expect that somehow they are going to grow 
up to be wholesome adults who won't be angry, who won't cause 
us problems. When a child is sick and uncared for, surrounded by 
violence and substance abuse, he or she becomes a scarred young 
man or young woman. Experience is a hard taskmaster. 

So I have a profound respect for the talented ones who know that 
they are talented. If it had been left up to this industry, these tal- 
ents would never have been discovered. These young people went 


into their garages and their basements and they created this art 
form; they created rap. The industry didn't want them. It did not 
embrace them. They did not want their music. There was no room 
for them on radio or television long before it was gangster rap. 

These young people persisted. They didn't care whether radio 
played them or not. They had their own distribution systems, their 
own labels, and they sold them out of their cars and on the streets. 
I want to share some lyrics with you because you are going to hear 
today and see a lot of lyrics that are unacceptable, that are hard 
on the ears and that embarrass us. But I want to share with you 
some lyrics because I want you to also understand that some of 
those who have lyrics that you don't like also have some very pro- 
found and painful lyrics: 

As I look up at the sky, my mind starts tripping. A tear drops from my eye. My 
body temperature falls. I am shaking and they break in trjdng to save the dog. 
Pumping on my chest and I am screaming. I stop breathing. I see demons. Dear 
Grod, I wonder can you save me. My boo-boo is about to have a baby and I think 
it is too late for praying. A voice spoke to me and it slowly started saying 'Bring 
your lifestyle to me and I will make it better.' How long will I live? Eternal life and 
forever. I will make your life a lot better than you can imagine or you can dream 
of So relax your soul. Let me take control. Close your eyes, my son. 

The writer is one that you are going to hear a lot about, Snoop 
Doggy Dog. He and his peers have been charged with glorifying 
criminal behavior, denigrating women and, in fact, causing the hor- 
rifying reality of our society today. But if we stop to think, we 
know that Snoop, Ice Cube, Ice T, Queen Latifah, Dr. Dre, Yo Yo — 
we know what they are saying, and indeed they are artists and 
they are indeed poets. They paint the world as they see it with 
their words and their music, and they feel the pain. They long for 
hope. They despair of change. They long for meaning. 

Humans have always created art to express their pain, their 
hope and their despair. We all remember the cherished spirituals 
that grew out of the blood and tears of our ancestors here in Amer- 
ica as they suffered on white plantations. 

Yes, many good people are genuinely offended and others are 
deeply concerned about rap music, and they have a right to oppose 
the music and to express their opinions. There are few who would 
defend freedom of speech in a case like this when it is not so easy, 
but let us take a closer look at what has been said and what are 
the consequences. 

First, the words. Some are concerned about the image of the 
black community, some of the words you will hear and what they 
describe. Some of these words, I must confess, I am offended by 
and some insulted by, as others are. I really do genuinely respect 
what some are feeling and how some feel offended and demeaned 
by such words, but I have to tell you all, I didn't first hear these 
words when Snoop said them. I didn't hear these words for the first 
time with gangster rap. Many of them I heard when I was a kid 
growing up in St. Louis in my neighborhood, and some of those 
folks were highly esteemed, church-going folks. I don't encourage 
the use of obscenities. I just think we should stop pretending we 
are hearing them for the first time. I am more truly bothered and 
grieved, however, by the painful landscapes these songs paint — 
story after story about young black men losing their way and losing 
their fight in this Nation of ours. 

Second, let us talk about the message. Liberals and conservatives 
alike express the concern that rap music causes violence. In part, 
this is a reaction to the fear of crime and violence that has spread 
across this land. Liberals sometimes are looking for a solution. 
Could there be a connection between art and violence, they ask. If 
we ban music about the violent reality of our inner cities, will that 
end the violence? 

Some conservatives, meanwhile, are having a field day, not all 
but some. Many of them have always believed that blacks cause 
most of the crime in America. After all, they argue, look at the in- 
ordinately high number of blacks in prison and on death row. 

Let us not lose sight of what the real problem is. It is not the 
words being used. It is the reality they are rapping about. For dec- 
ades, many of us have talked about the lives and the hopes of our 
people, the pain and the hopelessness, the deprivation and destruc- 
tion. Rap music is communicating that reality in a way we never 
have. Someone has described it as the CNN of the black commu- 
nity, causing people from every sector, including black leadership, 
to sit up and take notice. 

Let me share with you what I see in rap music and what I be- 
lieve it can mean for our communities and the future of our young 
people. The key word here is transformation. Rap music will, both 
figuratively and literally, play a role in transforming the lives of 
our urban youth. For the past 3 years, I have brought rap artists 
to the Congressional Black Caucus' annual legislative weekend. I 
created this forum because I knew what was coming. I wanted us 
to get to know them and to interact with them. I wanted them to 
tell us what was going on with the music and in the industry. 

I do this because I am in the business of transformation. I do not 
isolate, I do not marginalize, nor do I confront young people. I be- 
lieve that by including young people who have been excluded, we 
can influence them and we can transform them. 

At last year's CBC meeting, I hosted a young man whom I love 
dearly. His name is Tragedy. He used to call himself the Intelligent 
Hoodlum. Tragedy told us about his life. He told us about his moth- 
er, who was on drugs. He talked about how now he was making 
money and about how he is responsible for his mother's rehabilita- 
tion and how well she is doing. We talk constantly, and always he 
is asking me, Ms. Waters, can I come to Congress and talk to them 
about who we are and what we are doing? 

Queen Latifah was at my women's group, the Black Women's 
Forum of Los Angeles. It is a cross-section of women, but mostly 
upper middle-class women who earn good money and who come 
from strong backgrounds. Queen Latifah received a standing ova- 
tion from women who thought they would never sit in the same 
room with a rap artist. They didn't understand how profound she 
was or how much she really cared. 

I am involving rappers in what may be the biggest and most im- 
portant work of my career in public service. Following the rebellion 
in Los Angeles, the Black Women's Forum and I created a small 
but successful pilot program to engage a few of the thousands of 
young adults 17 to 30 years old who have fallen out of the main- 


We took young men who wanted a way out of hopelessness and 
hustling drugs and despair. The program succeeded beyond our 
wildest expectations. Some of these young men are now enrolled in 
college. They are pulling their lives together, thanks to a helping 
hand. Now, we are expanding that pilot project in a full-scale effort 
called "L.A. 17-30." This program is in addition to the $50 million 
in funding we won in last year's mini-economic stimulus for pilot 
17-30 programs in cities across the country. 

On the private side, in Los Angeles we have won support from 
the entertainment industry to support 5,000 young people who 
want to clean up their acts and reenter the mainstream. Some of 
that support comes from Snoop Doggy Dog, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and 
Ice T. We will hit the streets and identify these young people who 
are the real-life people described by rap music, living on the fringe 
in a shadow world. 

L.A. 17 to 30 will enroll participants in vocational education, job 
training, high school equivalency or community college. The enroU- 
ees will receive a stipend of $50 a week to cover necessities, includ- 
ing lunch money and transportation. For every 50 enrollees, we 
will have a qualified case worker who will work to keep his or her 
participants on the straight and narrow. His or her task is to so- 
cialize and mainstream, operating with low overhead and a special 
17 to 30 phone in their homes. Case managers will meet with their 
enrollees once a week and, between meetings, work in the streets, 
in the homes, in the schools to deal with each individual's special 
problems. We want to see these young people, mostly black and 
Latino young men, receive the job training, the education and the 
life skills necessary to become independent. 

The cost for this program for 1 year alone is $17 million. I have 
received an enthusiastic response from the entertainment industry, 
in general, and the rap community, in particular. The rap commu- 
nity is eager to help. I am grateful for their commitment and their 

Rap is here to stay. Madam Chairwoman. Like jazz, rhythm and 
blues, and rock and roll before them, it is entering the mainstream. 
A lot of money, yes, is being made. There is a lot of art and a lot 
of talent involved. These rappers cannot be described as all being 
cold, uncaring criminals. They are your children and they are my 
children. They are young people who have been isolated and, until 
now, denied the opportunity to say who they are and how they feel. 
They have a message that is forcing America to listen. 

I do not marginalize or disrespect those who feel that it is too 
much to bear, and I think this kind of hearing is good to talk about 
it, I am adamantly opposed to censorship, but I want us to find 
ways to embrace and to transform rather than to confront, isolate 
and marginalize. 

Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to testify 
today. [Applause.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much. I have no ques- 
tions of this witness. Thank you again very much. 

Ms. Waters. Thank you very much. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. We would like now to call panel two. 
Dr. C. Delores Tucker, Dr. Robert Phillips, Michael Eric Dyson, 


Sergeant Ron Stallworth, and Mr. Darryl James will come to the 
witness table. 

First off, I would like to thank all of you for coming and for testi- 
fying. I have copies of your testimony and, again, in the interests 
of time if you can summarize — not summarize; we don't want to 
leave anything out, but if you can give us a synopsis of your writ- 
ten testimony and just speak from your mind and your heart to 
make the points that you want to make to this panel today and to 
the people here assembled, we would appreciate it. 

I would like to start with Dr. C. Delores Tucker, who is the Na- 
tional Chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women. Dr. 
Tucker brought this issue to my attention many months ago and 
suggested that this was an issue for us to explore and examine. 
Quite frankly, we had a discussion at that time because as the 
mother of a teenage son, it had come to my attention in other con- 
texts before, and we want to proceed with thanking her for her 
leadership in this area and for the initiatives she has taken with 
regard to saving and protecting our children. 

Dr. Tucker? 



Ms. Tucker. Thank you very much. Chairman Kohl, Senator 
Cohen and my good sister. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun. I want to 
thank you for holding this committee hearing today. I thank you 
for the opportunity to testify and raise my concerns for the welfare 
of the young people of this Nation. 

I speak as the Chair of the National Political Congress of Black 
Women, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for the political and 
economic empowerment of African American women and families. 
For the record, I wish to state that NPCBW is not against rap. It 
is not against hip-hop. To the contrary, we support and encourage 
the artistic creativity of our young people. We love our young peo- 
ple. However, we are against gangster rap and misogynist lyrics. 

As African American women who head over 70 percent of African 
American households, we are especially aware of the social and eco- 
nomic conditions that have spawned some of this behavior. Those 
of us, which include over 60 major national organizations, who 
have taken up the mantle of this crusade to save our children have 
been arduously working on eliminating the root causes of the social 
ills plaguing our communities. That is why this organization was 
convened by me in 1984. We see this battle against the negative 
effects of gangster rap as an important element in our struggle to 
uplift the African American community and America as a Nation, 

As Coretta Scott King said in her State of the Dream Address, 
young people often look to performing artists for moral guidance 


and inspiration, as well as entertainment, but when these artists 
glorify guns and beatings, they are injecting poison into the veins 
of America's future. 

Enough is enough, and I am here today to put the Nation on no- 
tice that the proliferation of violence and unacceptable sexual mes- 
sages in our youth's music is due in part to the avarice of the 
record industry. The record industry is simply out of control. Some 
$780 million worth of rap records were sold in 1993, with more 
than half of the purchasers being under the age of 17 and 50 per- 
cent of these minors were between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. 
Something must be done. It is our moral responsibility to halt the 
sale of not just gangster rap, but porno rap. 

First, I want to address the issue of the impact of gangster rap 
lyrics and images on the youth of America. The misogynist lyrics 
that glorify violence and denigrate women are nothing more than 
pornographic smut. This smut being sold to our children coerces, 
influences, encourages and motivates our youth to commit violent 
behavior, use drugs and abuse women through demeaning sex acts. 
Our youth's constant exposure to these menacing images lower 
their sensibilities toward violent behavior, making killing and 
abuse commonplace and acceptable. 

The acceptance of violence among our youth is leading to a de- 
valuing of human life. In fact, 94 percent of the black youth that 
are killed today are killed by other black youth. It is an unavoid- 
able conclusion that gangster rap is negatively influencing our 
youth. This explains why so many of our children are out of control 
and why we have more black males in jail than we have in college. 

As an illustration of this, let me share with you excerpts from 
a letter that I received from a prisoner in Lorton, VA. He said: 

Rappers make it sound so good and look so real that I would drink and smoke 
drugs just like on the video, thinking that that was the only way I could be some- 
body. My hood girls became hoes and bitches. What is so bad about it is they accept- 
ed it. You know why? Because they put themselves in the video, too, and the guns, 
money, cars, drugs and men became a reality. Look where this kind of thinking got 
me, facing 25 years to life in jail. 

Recently, we have seen two incidents which vividly demonstrate 
the cause-and-effect correlation between what young people hear in 
rap and how they act. In one case, a 16-year-old from New Mexico, 
along with two of his friends, stabbed to death the boy's 80-year- 
old grandparents in a dispute over beer. A lieutenant investigating 
the case said that the teenagers worked themselves up by listening 
to a tape of Snoop Doggy Dog entitled "Serial Killer." The second 
incident just occurred last week when an 11-year-old Dajrton, OH, 
boy accidentally killed his 3-year-old sister and injured another 5- 
year-old sister while brandishing a gun and imitating the actions 
of Snoop Doggy Dog. 

Parents and elected officials need to be seriously concerned about 
gangster rap because it is obscene and sexist, it is driven by racism 
and greed, and it is ultimately destructive of community mores and 
values. As I see it, the first three things to note about gangster rap 
is it is obscene, it is obscene, it is obscene. 

Take a look at the sample of lyrics that I have provided. The vul- 
garity is overwhelming. Even many adults cannot even look at 
them. Take a look at the graphic art work that is sold with Snoop 


Doggy Dog's album, "Doggy Style," which any child can purchase 
in a record store. If the filth that is depicted in these cartoons is 
not obscene, then I submit that nothing is obscene. 

Obscenity has long been an exception to first amendment rights 
of free speech. As U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez explained in 
his opinion in the 2 Live Crew case, obscenity is not a protected 
form of speech under the U.S. Constitution. 

Racism and greed are the sustaining forces behind gangster rap. 
It is no coincidence that the characters displaying the most inde- 
cent behavior for all the public to see are African Americans. Some 
argue that these artists are merely speaking frankly about their re- 
ality and the black cultural experience. But as Dr. Benjamin 
Hooks, former Executive Director of the NAACP noted, our cultural 
experience does not include debasing our women, glorification of vi- 
olence and the promotion of deviant sexual behavior. 

An example of how racism is undergirding gangster rap can be 
seen in the experiences quoted by you. Madam Chair, on Lichelle 
Lorrs, who has been turned into a gangster, who has been turned 
into a young woman holding two guns on her album, and the song 
is "Bom Gangster." Placing profit ahead of social obligation, record 
companies routinely market this kind of music, and many cannot 
get a contract unless they descend to that level of pornography. 

Last, by promoting and constantly depicting the type of behavior 
synonymous with gangster rap, society is validating antisocial be- 
havior. As printed in Billboard Magazine which, as we know, is the 
bible of the industry, it was quoted in a full-page editorial that this 
music leads to the death of conscience, the corruption of the spirit, 
and ultimately the destruction of the individual and the commu- 
nity. No one form of popular music is enough to justify racism, sex- 
ual bigotry and the endorsement of sociopathic violence. 

The full authority of government should be used to restrict access 
of music and videos to minors. In particularly egregious instances. 
Congress should put forth measures to remove the ofiending prod- 
uct from the marketplace. The people in the music industry that 
are proponents of this vile, obscene, racist and antisocial music 
must be denounced for the pandering opportunists that they are 
and not be allowed to continue in the trafficking of this cultural 
garbage to children. 

I am saying that principle must come before profit. Congress has 
an obligation to the children and families of this Nation to confront 
the music industry elite about this deplorable product that they 
routinely inflict upon society. While Congress is debating a $22 bil- 
lion crime bill, you should not only be concerned with advancing 
short-tern initiatives to the crime epidemic sweeping the Nation, 
but you must think in terms of long-term and preventive measures. 

As we have seen in the last 30 years, increasing law enforcement 
and correctional facilities have not reduced crime. These short-term 
fixes will do nothing to improve the lives of children like the 19 
that were recently removed from a home in Chicago because of pa- 
rental neglect and abuse. They are prime examples of the children 
that gangster rap will influence. Because of the lack of positive in- 
fluences, their minds will be fertile and receptive ground for inter- 
nalizing the violence glorified in gangster rap. Children such as 
these, our most neglected population, will become a social time 


bomb in our midst. Being coaxed by gangster rap, they will trigger 
a crime wave of epidemic proportions that we have never seen the 
likes of. Regardless of the number of jails built, it will not be 
enough. Neither will there be enough police or government pro- 
grams to contain the explosion of crime. We as a Nation must act 
now, and we must act decisively. 

Finally, the solutions that I am suggesting today require that we 
think in terms of curtailing crime at its earliest stages by investing 
in our youth. As a weapon to combat today's violence, Congress 
needs to establish public-private partnerships which create live-in 
schools patterned after the Milton Hershey schools in Hershey, PA, 
the Stephen Girard College in Philadelphia and Father Flanagan's 
Boys Town in the Midwest. These facilities provide a wholesome 
and educational environment free of violence and are cheaper than 

In addition, since the Government is in the process of downsizing 
the military. Congress now should examine the idea of converting 
military bases into training academies for first- and second-time 
youth offenders. These bases could be put to good use by giving 
youth the skills they need to be productive citizens rather than 
jailing and condemning them to a life of crime. 

In closing, I wish to remind the Senate that banning the sale of 
gangster rap to our children is one preventive action Congress can 
take to curb violence, but it is one that is imperative to begin the 
process of healing our Nation. No one, and I say no one and no in- 
dustry, should be allowed to continue the social and psychological 
poisoning of the young minds of this Nation that is occurring with 
gangster rap. So I say to you again that the record industry is out 
of control and if they don't clean up their own act, they must be 

May I finally say this word? Coming here to this hearing today, 
I prayed first and I got on the elevator and I heard these words: 
"I believe the children are the future," Whitney Houston said. 
"Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the 
beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride." Our chil- 
dren need heroes. They need someone to look up to. 

Thank you for these hearings, and may you do what you have 
been elected to do. [Applause.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you. Dr. Tucker, if you will re- 
main at the witness table because I think it would be helpful if we 
can go through and then ask questions. Thank you again for your 
eloquent testimony. 

Dr. Phillips? 


Dr. Phillips. Senator Kohl, Senator Cohen, Senator Moseley- 
Braun, I am Robert T.M. Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Medical Di- 
rector of the American Psychiatric Association, which is the Na- 
tion's oldest medical specialty organization comprised of over 
38,000 physicians dedicated to caring for those who suffer from 
mental illness and advocating for the mental health and welfare of 
adults and children. It is my privilege to testify before you this 
morning on what I consider to be one of the most important prob- 


lems facing not only the Senate, but the profession of medicine as 
a whole. 

Senator Moseley-Braun, you were quite correct a few moments 
ago when you suggested that violence was an epidemic in this 
country. In fact, it is pandemic in this country and is our greatest 
public health crisis. The effect of violence is measured not only in 
human carnage, but also in the devastation of our communities 
and, in particular, in the communities in which African Americans 

Violence is everywhere in this country. It is not just an inner-city 
problem. It is not unique to racial or ethnic minorities, despite the 
consistent efforts to make that association. As a scientist, I can tell 
you that there has been no such scientific evidence to establish 
such causal linkages. 

Violence is manifested not only by the acts of murder, but overtly 
and covertly by acts committed against others, as well as against 
self, by such acts as rape, physical and sexual assault, arson, child 
abuse, spousal abuse, elder abuse, and even suicide. This is the pic- 
ture of violence in American society and we need to understand it 
at the greatest aperture of exposure. 

The administration's efforts to bolster law enforcement's response 
to violence is both laudable and necessary, but absence of informed 
public policy that addresses the root causes of violence will only 
destine such legislation to failure. 

Violence, as a physician, I can tell you, is not a diagnosis, nor 
is it a disease. It is, however, a behavioral manifestation of a 
human condition that is as old as time itself. Plato once said that 
poverty was the mother of crime. Aristotle taught us that the chief 
universal cause of the revolutionary impulse is the desire for equal- 
ity, and Representative Waters can attest to her experiences in Los 
Angeles which underscored the points made by Aristotle centuries 
ago. Socrates mused, the existence of such persons are to be attrib- 
uted to the want of education, ill training and the evil constitution 
of the state. 

I am here to tell you that while poverty, lack of opportunity and 
discrimination are intimately associated with violence, it would be 
reductionistic to view such socio-economic conditions as the sole 
cause. We are a society that is absolutely infatuated with violence 
in a clinically obsessive way. We romanticize violence in film, we 
glorify violence in sport and we pay homage to the sports hero with 
multi-million-dollar, multi-year contracts. We attach to such sports 
extraordinary financial rewards and all of the spoils of our society. 

We feed our addiction to violence every day in television news 
trailers for the 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m. broadcasts. We sensationalize 
violence with special reports and special editions in both the elec- 
tronic and the print media. From Los Angeles to Lillehammer, 
make no mistake about it, violence has emerged as the strongest 
currency in this country in a marketplace that just can't get 

Children, Dr. Tucker, as you have wisely instructed us, have be- 
come not only the victims of violence, but they are the fastest grow- 
ing segment of perpetrators of violence in this society. Juveniles ac- 
count for over 17 percent of all violent crimes. The juvenile arrest 
rates for murder have gone in excess of 85 percent since 1987 to 


date. Three out of ten juvenile murder arrests in this country in- 
volve victims under the age of 18. 

There is absolutely no hope of getting violence off of our streets 
until we become serious about getting guns out of the hands of our 
young children. Between 1987 and 1991, the juvenile arrest rates 
for weapons increased by 62 percent and, as the Senator quoted 
earlier, 1 out of every 5 weapons arrests was a juvenile weapons 

Most disturbing to me as an African American psychiatrist is the 
fact that black youth were arrested for weapons law violations at 
a rate triple that of other youths. Black youths are the victims of 
homicide at a rate six times higher than that of whites in this 

Among our young, particularly our minority young, anger, frus- 
tration, hopelessness and rage are what fuel the fires that inevi- 
tably manifest themselves in violence. You asked me to give you 
some examples and explanations as a clinician. Those are the ex- 
amples and explanations. The compounding problems of substance 
abuse, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, truancy and dropping out 
have provided fertile soils for the seeds of discontent that have 
been sown for generations in this country. The deterioration of our 
family units and the absence of strong and consistent male and fe- 
male role models only help to begin our understanding of this prob- 

Much attention has been paid by the Senate focused on the ef- 
fects of violent television programming on children and adolescents, 
and I and the American Psychiatric Association have joined with 
Senator Conrad and the Citizens Task Force on Television Violence 
and are already on record on this issue. But I want to spend just 
a few moments before I close focusing your attention on the record- 
ing industry and the impact of sexually explicit lyrics on the phys- 
ical and emotional well-being of our young and the kinds of effects 
that this graphic literature — and I use that term guardedly — has 
on the emotional and physical well-being of our children. 

If television and pictures are the window through which we see 
the reflection of art imitating life, then I submit to you that music 
is clearly the homing device for language by which we track the 
culture and the mores of our society. Numerous studies have clear- 
ly established the relationship between the actual exposure to vio- 
lence and its negative consequences on childhood development, and 
a substantial body of research has demonstrated the association of 
violent or aggressive behaviors with repeated exposure to television 

I have provided for you in my written testimony a series of re- 
search pieces which clearly establish the same causal linkages with 
music. What I want you to pay attention to is the fact that rock 
music has always been viewed as a counter-culture by many 
adults. Nonetheless, it has firmly established itself as a powerful 
art form, particularly among the young. 

As each generation matures, what was considered the norm be- 
comes passe when new contemporary themes emerge. So now we 
are talking about gangster rap, whose lyrics contain some of the 
most violent and derogatory verbal assaults on women that I have 
seen in my lifetime. But we have forgotten, lady and gentlemen, 


that this is a theme that has been long present in the recording 
industry and that rap music is only its latest iterative form. 

Contemporary rock, in particular certain segments of heavy 
metal and hard-core punk, has consistently demonstrated substan- 
tial deviations from the norm. This music can be described as 
alienated, negativistic, nihilistic and, frankly, pornographic. The 
themes of homicide, suicide and satanic practices which promote 
sex, sadomasochism, rape and murder are prominent in other 
music forms other than rap. It would be a mistake to pin this, as 
we always do, on the victims, which all too often are the inhab- 
itants of the minority communities in this country. 

I want to share with you just a few lyrics to illustrate the point. 
"No apparent motive, just kill and kill again. Survive my brutal 
slashing. I'll hunt you 'til the end. In goes my knife, pull out his 
life, consider the bastard dead." That is not rap music. 

"Ripping flesh, drawing blood, I live to eat your bones." That is not rap music. 
"Holy hell, death to us. Satan fell on holy lust. Devil's water starts to flood. God 
is slaughtered, drink his blood. Satan's right hand." 

That is not rap music, but the lyrics of gangster rap and misog- 
yny in rap clearly evolved from the same shameful and repugnant 

So if vou show in the front row, I call you a bitch or a dirty assho. You probably 
get mad Uke the bitch is supposed to. So what about the bitch who got shot? F - 
- - her. You think I give a damn about that bitch? 

That is rap music. "Her body is so beautiful, so I'm thinking 
rape. Shouldn't have had her curtains open, so that's her fate. Slit 
her throat and watched her shake." That is rap music. 

The effect of such music and music videos is best understood in 
the context of childhood development and, as a psychiatrist, that is 
what I want to focus your attention on. Children are born with the 
innate capacity and desire to imitate our behavior as adults. 
Whether the behavior is triggered by a video image, by an audio 
image, or by the incredibly powerful combination of audio and vis- 
ual imagery, violence is powerful, tantalizing, charismatic and in- 

We have got to be clear that the effects of repeated exposure to 
violence by any stimulating form serves to desensitize, and the best 
illustrative example I can give you of desensitization is to think 
back in your memory to your viewing the videotaped beating of 
Rodney King. The first time, you may have been appalled by it, if 
you could have gotten through it. The second time, you perhaps 
watched with greater intent, but I assure you, by the 12th, 14th 
or 100th time you saw it on the television set, you reached for the 
remote control to find out what else was on. That is desensitiza- 
tion. What we hear and what you heard in those lyrics are desen- 

We have got to educate parents to the risks of exposure to such 
music and the desensitization that occurs from such exposure in 
the same way we have educated parents to the exposure and the 
risks of exposure to infectious disease. As a physician, I feel very 
strongly about this. As a psychiatrist, I am convinced that we must 
take this kind of music seriously, seriously to the extent of the ef- 
fect that it has on our children. 


Freedom of speech does not relieve, artists, recording executives 
or broadcasters of their responsibiUty to serve the public interest. 
More importantly, one's constitutionally guaranteed first amend- 
ment right to free speech does not give license to do harm to oth- 

The American Psychiatric Association believes that violent and 
demeaning musical lyrics have a deleterious effect on our youth 
and place at grave risk the mental health and welfare of them- 
selves and our communities. As a psychiatrist and as a representa- 
tive of that Association and its 38,000 physician members, I ap- 
plaud your efforts and we pledge our continued support in battling 
what we consider to be the number one public health crisis in this 

Thank you very much. [Applause.] 

[The prepared statement of Dr. Phillips follows:] 

Prepared Statement of Robert T.M. Phillips, M.D., PH.D., on Behalf of the 

American Psychiatric Association 

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice of the Sen- 
ate Judiciary Committee, I am Robert T.M. Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Medical 
Director of the American Psychiatric Association, the nation's oldest medical spe- 
cialty organization which represents over 38,000 physicians dedicated to caring for 
those who suffer from mental illness and advocating for the mental health and wel- 
fare of adults and children. It is an honor for me to be invited to discuss our con- 
cerns regarding the effects of violent and demeaning musical lyrics on our nation's 

Violence is pandemic in the United States and has emerged as our premier public 
health crisis. The effects of violence are measured, not only in its human carnage 
but also, in its devastation to our communities and destruction of the lives of our 

Violence is everywhere in America. It is not just an "inner city" problem. It is not 
unique to racial or ethnic minorities — despite efforts to the contrary, no such causal 
linkages have been established. Violence is manifested not only by the act of mur- 
der, but overtly and covertly by acts committed against others, as well as against 
self, such as physical and sexual assault, rape, arson, child abuse, spousal abuse, 
elder abuse, and suicide. The administration's efforts to bolster law enforcement's 
response to violence is both laudable and essential, but in the absence of informed 
public policy that addresses the root causes of violence, it is destined to fail. 

Violence is not a diagnosis, nor is it a disease. It is, however, a behavioral mani- 
festation of a human condition as old as time itself Plato once said "Poverty is the 
mother of crime." Aristotle taught us that "the chief universal cause of the revolu- 
tionary impulse is the desire for equality." Socrates mused, "the existence of such 
persons is to be attributed to the want of education, ill training and evil constitution 
of the state." While poverty, lack of opportunity, and discrimination are intimately 
associated with violence, it would be reductionistic to view such socio-economic con- 
ditions as the sole cause. 

We are a society that is infatuated with violence in a clinically obsessive way. We 
romanticize violence in film. We glorify violent sports and pay homage to its glad- 
iators with adoration and attach to such sport the financial rewards and spoils of 
our society. We feed our addiction to violence in television news trailers for the five, 
six, ten, and eleven p.m. broadcasts. We sensationalize violence with special reports 
and special editions in both the electronic and print media. From Los Angeles to 
Lillehammer, violence has emerged as the strongest currency in a marketplace that 
just can't get enough. 

Children have increasingly become not only the victims of violence, but also its 
fastest growing segment of perpetrators. Juveniles accounted for 17 percent of all 
violent crimes in calendar year 1991. The juvenile arrest rates for murder increased 
by 85 percent between the years 1987-1981. Three out of every ten juvenile murder 
arrests in this country involve a victim under the age of 18. There is no hope of 
getting violence off our streets until we figure out how to get the guns out of the 
hands of our young children. Between 1987 and 1991 the juvenile arrest rates for 
weapons violations increased by 62 percent. In 1991 one out of every five weapons 
arrest was a juvenile arrest. Most disturbing to me as an African-American psychia- 


trist is the fact that black youth were arrested for weapons law violations at a rate 
triple that of white youth in 1991. Black youth were the victims of homicide at a 
rate six times higher than whites. 

Among our young today, in particular our minority young, anger, frustration, 
hopelessness, and rage fuel the fires that inevitably are manifested in violence. The 
compounding problems of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, truancy 
and dropping out have provided fertile soil for the seeds of discontent that have 
been sown for generations in this country. The deterioration of the family unit and 
the absence of strong and consistent male and female role models only begin to help 
us understand the origins of this dilemma. 

Much attention has been focused on the effects of violent television programming 
on children and adolescents. The American Psychiatric Association has joined with 
Senator Kent Conrad and the Citizens Task Force on TV Violence and is already 
on record regarding this issue. Now our attention appropriately turns to the record- 
ing industry and the impact of sexually explicit lyrics on the physical and emotional 
well-being of our young. If television and movies are the window through which we 
see the reflections of art imitating Ufe, then music is clearly the homing device of 
language by which we track the cultures and mores of our society. 

Numerous studies have clearly established the relationship between actual expo- 
sure to violence and its negative consequences on normal childhood development. A 
substantial body of research has also demonstrated the association of violent or ag- 
gressive behaviors with repeated exposure to televised violence. Simply put, the 
more violent programming children view, the greater is the risk that they will be- 
have violently or aggressively. 

The same paradigm holds true for music and its potential effect on listeners. Rock 
music has always been viewed as a "counterculture" by many adults. Nonetheless, 
it has firmly established itself as a powerful art form, particularly among the young. 
As each generation matures, what was considered the "norm" becomes passe as new 
contemporary themes emerge. Recently, there has been an appropriate decrying of 
a form of rap music referred to as "gansta rap" whose lyrics contain some of the 
most violent and derogatory verbal assaults on women. We seem, however, to have 
forgotten that this is only the latest iteration of a theme which long predated rap 
music. Other forms of contemporary rock music, in particular certain segments of 
heavy metal and hard core punk, have persistently demonstrated substantial devi- 
ation, even from the "norm," of current contemporary themes. This type of music 
has been described by critics and researchers alike as "alienated, negativistic, nihi- 
Hstic, and pornographic" at its best. A review of the lyrics of this kind of contem- 
porary rock music reveals themes of homicide, suicide and satanic practices, which 
promote sex, sadomasochism, rape, and murder. There have also been clear exam- 
ples in \yhich lyrics have promoted the act of suicide. Haennelerswass, et al. and 
their review of adolescent interests in views of destructive themes in rock music pro- 
vide us with some sample lyrics released since 1980 by heavy metal bands: 

* * * No apparent motive/Just kill and kill again/Survive my brutal slash- 
ing/I'll hunt you till the end * * ♦.! 

* * * In goes my knife/Pull out his Ufe/Consider that bastard dead * * *.2 

* * * Ripping flesh, drawing blood/I live to eat your bones * * *.3 

* * * I am possessed by all that is evil/The death of your Gk)d I demand/ 
I spit at the virgin you worship/And sit at Lord Satan's right hand * * *.4 

* * * Holy hell, death to us/Satan fell, unholy lust/Devil's water starts to 
flood/God is slaughtered, drink his blood * ♦ * Satan's right hand * ♦ *.5 

The lyrics of "gansta rap" and misogyny in rap clearly then evolve from the same 
shameful and repugnant tradition. 

So if you at a show in the front row 

I'm a call you a bitch or a dirty-ass ho 

You probably get mad Uke bitch is supposed to * * * 

■^ * "^ So what about the bitch who got shot? 

F--- her 

You think I give a damn about a bitch * * * e 

1 By Slayer, in album "Hell Awaits," Metal Blade Records, 1986. 

2 By Motley Crue, in album "Shout At The Devil," Electra/Asylum, 1983. 

3 By Metal Church, in album "The Dark," Electra/Asylum, 1986. 

■*By Venom, in album "Welcome To Hell," Power Metal/Neat Music, 1985. 

5 By Seven Churches, in album "Possessed," Combat Records, 1985. 

6 Straight Outta Compton,? N. W.A. 


Bitch ♦ ♦ * I just want f you and cut 

Treat ya like a trammpy slut.'^ 

Her body's beautiful so I'm thinking" rape 

Shouldn't have had her curtains open so that's her fate * * * 

Slit her throat and watched her shake s 

Cause we're like the outlaws striding' while suckers are hiding' ♦ * * 

Jump behind the bush when you see me drivin' by! 

Hanging out the window with my magnum taking out some putas. Act kind 

of local, I'm just another local kid from the street getting paid for my 

vocals. 9 

The effect of such music and music videos is best understood in in the context 
of childhood development. Children are born with the innate capacity and desire to 
imitate adult human behavior. Whether the behavior imitated is triggered by a vis- 
ual image, an audio image, or by combined audio-visual imagery, the cognitive im- 
pact is overwhelming. Violence is powerful, tantalizing, charismatic, and intoxicat- 

Research on the impact of music and music videos on normal child development 
has been consistent with similar research that has examined the impact of repeated 
exposure to televised violence. 

Approximately 700 middle and high school students from central Florida com- 
pleted a survey about rock music preferences. Nearly one-fifth of the students 
named as favorites those performers whose music describes homicide, suicide, and 
satanism. The majority of these fans were male. Among those studied, fans of heavy 
metal and punk rock were more likely than fans of other rock music to report know- 
ing the lyrics to favorite songs, lo 

A content analysis of music videos was conducted by the Journal of Broadcasting 
& Electronic Media. The study found that violence and crime were depicted in more 
than half of a random sample of 62 music videos shown on MTV. Violent videos fea- 
tured destruction of property, physical aggression against self and others, and use 
of weapons such as chains, guns, knives and axes." 

The effects of sexually violent rock music on men's acceptance of violence against 
women was reported in Psychology of Women Quarterly. Seventy-five male college 
students participated in an experiment to compare the effects of exposure to sexu- 
ally violent heavy metal rock, Christian heavy metal rock, and easy-listening music 
on attitudes about women. The study found that men who listened to only seventeen 
minutes of heavy metal music (regardless of sexually violent or Christian themes) 
expressed greater endorsement of sexual stereotypes, negative attitudes and preju- 
diciail beliefs about women than did men who heard easy-listening music. 12 

In another study designed to examine the influence of erotic and violent content 
on men's attitudes about violence against women, 144 male college students 
watched music videos featuring either erotic violent, erotic non-violent, non-erotic 
violent, or no-erotic, non violent content. Those who watched the non-erotic violent 
videos expressed the most callous and antagonistic attitudes toward women. i3 

Approximately 400 college students watched music videos containing either a low, 
moderate, or high level of visual violence in a 1990 study published in Communica- 
tion Research. For both males and females, increasing the level of video violence de- 
creased the appeal of the music and the visual content. The more violent videos 
made viewers feel less happy, more angry, more fearful, more anxious, less sexual 
and more aggressive than did less violent videos. i4 

Sherman and Dominick reviewed 166 videos sampled from MTV, WTBS's "Night 
Tracks," and NBC's "Fridav Night Videos." They found that violence was reported 
in 57 percent of the sample. Aggression more often involved wrestling, punching, 
and grabbing than use of weapons. Men were three times more likely than women 
to be victims of violence. Non-white characters more often than white characters 
used weapons and had weapons used against them.i^ 

7 Hoes, Too Short. 

8 Mind of a Lunatic The Ghetto Boys. 

9 How I Could Just Kill A Man Cypress Hill. 

^0 Omega, 19(3), 177-186. Wass, H., Raup, J.. Cerullo, K., Martel, L., Mingione, L., Sperring, 
A. (1989). 

^i Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 29(3), 333-340. Baxyter, R., DeRiemer, C, 
Landine, A., Leslie, L., & Singletary, M/. (195). 

^^Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 49-63. St. Lawrence, J., & Joyner, D. (1991). 

13 Psychological Reports, 64, 319-322. Peterson, D., & Pfost, K. (1989). 

I'i Communication Research, 17(2), 212-234. Hansen, C, & Hansen, R. (1990). 

i^Journal of Communications, 36, 79-93. Sherman, B., & Dominick, J. (1986). 


Finally a random sample of 139 music videos from MTV showed an average of 
tend acts of violence per hoiir, almost twice the amount of violence found in prime- 
time programming. An act of violence was defined as "force or the compelling threat 
of force that may result in harm to life or to valued objects." le 

These data are clear convincing and overwhelming. The repeated exposure to vio- 
lent imagery desensitizes us to violence and greatly increases the risk that we will 
manifest violence in our own behavior. We must educate parents to the risks of ex- 
posure to such music in the same way we have educated them to the risks of expo- 
sure to infectious diseases. 

Freedom of speech does not relieve artists, recording executives, or broadcasters 
of their responsibility to serve the public interest. More importantly, one's constitu- 
tionally guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech does not give license to 
do harm to others. 

The American Psychiatric Association believes that violent and demeaning musi- 
cal lyrics have a deleterious effect on our youth and place at grave risk the mental 
health and welfare of themselves and our communities. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your Subcommittee. I would be 
happy to respond to any questions. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much. 

Again, this little box doesn't seem to be speaking for itself, but 
I would ask again to try to shorten it because we have two other 
panels and I would very much like to make certain that we get ev- 
eryone's testimony in as early in this day as we can. 

Professor Dyson, thank you very much for coming and I would 
like to invite your testimony at this point. 


Mr. Dyson. Thank you, Senator Moseley-Braun. To Senators 
Cohen and Kohl and Moseley-Braun, I am deeply gratified and 
honored by the invitation to testify before this subcommittee today. 
I grew up in the inner city of Detroit, MI, one of an immediate fam- 
ily of five boys, but a larger extended family of four older brothers 
and sisters, one of nine children, under excruciatingly cruel condi- 
tions in many ways, and was benefitted by a support network that 
included the black church most prominently that allowed me then 
to go on to get a Ph.D. from Princeton in religion. I am also an or- 
dained Baptist minister, and now a professor at Brown University. 
So I come to this both from having a deeply invested existential 
connection and rooting in the culture that is often examined but 
most often demonized, as well as a kind of scholarly investigation 
of the issues at hand. 

I think what I want to say is that rap and gangster rap must 
be placed in a historical, political and social context, as all of us, 
I think, are attempting to do. The present level of scrutiny about 
gangster rap, besides its legitimate concern with vicious forms of 
misogyny and sexism and, interestingly enough, the 
underrepresented forms of homophobia that pervade most music in 
American culture — and, of course, we could talk about gangster 
rap, in particular — the silence about homophobia is itself an index 
of the way in which certain issues can be politically taken and ex- 
ploited while others remain silent. "Fag" and "dike" as much as 
"bitch" and "ho" are littered throughout the language of gangster 

Yet, what it indicates, perhaps, in an unconscious way is that we 
participate in the very homophobia that gangster rappers talk 

i^ Journalism Quarterly, 62(1), 144-147. Caplan, R. (1985). 


about and therefore don't find it necessary to isolate and deal with 
it. But besides the salutary effects of focusing on those negative 
things, one of the most powerful things we must not forget about 
gangster rap is that it expresses what I believe is an ongoing, time- 
honored tradition, and that is the demonizing of young black men, 
in particular, but black youth culture as well. 

The pathologization of black youth culture, we must be quite cau- 
tious and careful about. I think to pay attention to gangster rap is 
quite important, but to automatically pathologize it — that is, to de- 
scribe it in ways that link it to serious disease — is it itself some- 
thing that is not new with gangster rap. 

For instance, when we think about the plantation to the post-in- 
dustrial city during slavery, the very language we use to describe 
gangster rap was used to describe black people. The very language 
that we use to describe the ill effects of the constant exposure to 
violence, about which I am as well quite concerned — these same 
images and battery of images were deployed against black men and 
women at the behest of a white racist, supremacist ideology that 
had no intent upon dealing equitably with black people. 

So when we look at people being brutally behaved, morally 
flawed, uniquely ugly and fatally over-sexed, this did not begin 
with gangster rap. These were images that were put into the main- 
stream of American culture, circulated in narratives and tales, sci- 
entific treatises and theological treks by -the American culture in 
which we live. So we have got to understand that historical con- 
text, and as we approach gangster rap we must ever keep that in 

As the eloquent testimonies that have preceded me of Dr. Tucker 
and Dr. Phillips have talked about, we certainly don't want to con- 
done the vicious misogyny and cruel hatred of women and sexism. 
But as well know, sexism and misogyny did not begin with gang- 
ster rap. God only hope that we could isolate it there. Misogyny 
and patriarchy and sexism are deeply ingrained in American cul- 
tural traditions. Gangster rap, to whatever degree it participation 
in that, is being imitative, is being mimetic, is reflecting not its 
own culture. It is reflecting the larger society in which it takes 

So as we understand the background of gangster rap, what 
should inform our considerations about hip-hop culture is to under- 
stand, as the distinguished Congresswoman Maxine Waters indi- 
cated, that it grows out of very specific and particular cultural and 
economic conditions. While gangster rap expresses and grew up in, 
as we say, L.A., which has dealt with enormous and paralyzing 
forms of violence, what we have got to understand is that it is an 
expression of rage against white injustice, against economic misery, 
against cultural exploitation. 

One of the first gangster rap groups, NWA, expressed legitimate 
concern, for instance, about police brutality: 

F the police, comin' straight from the underground. A young nigger got it 

bad 'cause I'm brown and not the other color, so police think they have the authority 
to kill a minority. 

That was a prophetic statement delivered 2 or 3 years before the 
Rodney King incident, and had we been listening to the prescient 
information being distributed by NWA, we might have been more 


easily receptive to the notion that a Rodney King incident could 
have happened. 

On the other hand, I think that we have to point to forces of 
urban collapse, the evaporation of opportunity, the shift in the po- 
litical economy, where we have seen manufacturing go down and 
the service industries escalate, which means that high- wage, low- 
skill jobs have all but evaporated for black males over the past 20 
to 30 years. Labor force participation of black men has gone down. 

What does all of this mean? This means, then, that rap, and 
gangster rap in particular, fills a concrete political and economic 
void, and more particularly a cultural vacuum that has been cre- 
ated by racist and sexist and classist neglect of the very conditions 
of young black men. 

In the broader historical tradition, gangster rap continues, yes, 
the vulgarity that is central to African American oral traditions in 
ways that we don't always own up to. It could have been that 20 
or 30 years ago we could have held hearings about the lyrics of 
B.B. King or Rowland Wolf, the mo-jo and the huchie-kuchie man 
and woman, or Coco Taylor. Vulgarity is central not simply to Afri- 
can American oral traditions known as toasts — "Stagger Lee": 
"Three, six, nine, the goose drunk wine, the monkey chewed to- 
bacco on the streetcar line," and so on — but it is littered throughout 
the language of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Vulgarity represents 
a stage of coming maturity among a particular culture or a particu- 
lar population and age group that signifies them coming to grips 
with the very vulgar conditions in which they are nurtured and 

The real vulgarity here is not simply gangster rap lyrics. The 
real vulgarity that needs to be indicted is the social and economic 
conditions that we allow to continue to fester in the under-belly of 
post-modern cultural collapse. [Applause.] 

Mr. Dyson. But more than that, I think that gangster rap rep- 
resents a cry and a scream against the invisibility, against the ne- 
glect that we not only — and we can't simply say a white racist 
America. As has been pointed out, we talk about the music indus- 
try exploiting gangster rappers, but we must remember that MTV 
put on rap before BET, that rappers were on the cover of Rolling 
Stone before they were on the cover of Ebony and Jet, which means 
that there was a cultural distancing by black bourgeois culture be- 
cause we were ashamed about the vulgarity and the explicit lyrics 
that were being done because they pointed to things we were em- 
barrassed to deal with. I say this both as a member of the so-called 
member of the underclass and now as a petty bourgeois negro intel- 
lectual making a living trying to talk about the realities of life. [Ap- 

Mr. Dyson. What we must not forget is that gangster rappers 
represent a population that is among the most politically invisible, 
politically underrepresented, culturally maligned populations in 
American culture — ^young black males. How dare we remember 
that in a culture that not a century-and-a-half ago put black men 
on an auction block to sell them by describing them in the most 
crass, materialistic, consumerist ethos, driven by an American de- 
sire to dominate black men's lives — to now hypocritically, less than 
a century-and-a-half later, declaim and decry them for the very 


same explicit circulation of lyrics and beliefs that it held as pre- 
cious documents and as precious principles of an American cul- 
ture — how dare we do that. We have to be more sensitive. We have 
to be more understanding that we cannot simply stigmatize the vic- 
tims. We have to speak for them. 

I might add, if we really want to get to the source of demonizing 
black women, young black men don't have the power. This is why 
Senator Moseley-Braun ran for the Senate because it was a white- 
dominated male Senate that had castigated black women's lives 
and made sure that the glass ceiling that was on their lives would 
turn into cement. This is the real enemy in American culture. 

Black bourgeois institutions, white male culture and certain 
forms of gangster rap all have certain things in common. So as we 
expand the pallet of colors from which we draw to paint upon the 
canvas of life the forces that we want to oppose, let us remember 
that gangster rap is not simply an objective revelation or narration 
of the coming racial apocalypse. I don't believe in the moral neu- 
trality of gangster rap, as I don't believe in the moral neutrality 
of the Senate, as I don't believe in the moral neutrality of the re- 
cording industry. All of us must be held responsible for the circula- 
tion of vicious, misogynistic, sexist and homophobic lyrics, ideals 
and ideologies that we must point to. 

As I close — I am a Baptist preacher; I don't want to go on all day 
long. But what I will say in closing is that if we are going to point 
to the conditions that lead to gangster rap, I think we will do a 
much better job of understanding why young black people see it 
necessary, and young black men in particular see it necessary to 
deal with life in the way that they do. 

I would not dare come here and defend any attempt to in any 
way desecrate black women, but if we are honest about it. Senator 
Moseley-Braun, Stokley Carmichael as part of the movement dur- 
ing the 1960's said that the best position for a black woman was 
prone. Civil rights organizations were notoriously sexist. Highly- 
trained black women were sent to work in civil rights organizations 
and they were made carriers of coffee and pencil sharpeners. Peo- 
ple, because of their extraordinary talent, were made to be sexually 
objectified, and we know across this culture that women have been 
treated that way. 

So what I argue and what I contend is that we must deal with 
an honest assessment of the conditions that lead to gangster rap- 
pers. If we listen to Snoop Doggy Dog when he says, "waked up, 
jumped out my bed, I'm in a two-man cell with my hommie little 
half dead, murder was the case that they gave me, dear God, I 
wonder can you save me," what you have in Snoop Doggy Dog is 
a second-generation Mississippi draw in the post-industrial collapse 
of L.A. trying to come to grips with what it means to make the 
transition from a stable life to one that has been undermined by 
forces of economic misery, economic emiseration [sic] and class divi- 
sion. Those are the real culprits here. As the old black woman said, 
be who you is and not who you ain't 'cause if you is what you ain't, 
you am what you're not. 


[The prepared statement of Mr. Dyson follows:] 


Prepared Statement of Michael Eric Dyson 

biographical sketch 

Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a native of Detroit, Michigan, received his B.A. de- 
gree in philosophy, magna cum laude from Carson-Newman College, and his M.A. 
and Ph.D. degrees in religion from Princeton University. An ordained Baptist min- 
ister, he has pastored three churches. He has lectured at colleges and universities 
around the nation. His writing has appeared in numerous books, journals and mag- 
azines, including The New York Times, The Nation, The Chicago Tribune, Transi- 
tion, Cultural Critique, Christian Century, Christianity & Crisis, Cultural Studies, 
Social Text, Z Magazine, Emerge Magazine, The Washington Post Book World and 
Rolling Stone. Dyson won the 1992 Magazine Award from the National Association 
of Black Journalists. Dyson has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss 
civil rights and the importance of remembering the past. Dyson had also appeared 
on numerous other radio and television programs, including National Public Radio, 
BET, and PBS. He has also spoken at several film festivals, including the Sundance 
Film Festival. He has lectured in Italy on intercultural and multiracial relations in 
America and Europe, and in the Netherlands on the historical significance of Mal- 
colm X. His book. Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism, was pub- 
Hshed in June, 1993 by the University of Minnesota Press. Because of its rapid suc- 
cess and impressive sales (over 7,000 copies sold). Reflecting Black has already gone 
into second printing. Dyson is editing an anthology on Malcolm X, entitled Malcolm 
X: A Critical Reader (Basil BlackwelT). He is also writing a book about black males, 
entitled Boys To Men: Black Males in America (Random House). His next book, 
Making Malcolm X, will be published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 1994. 
A former teacher at Hartford Seminary, and the Chicago Theological Seminary, 
Dyson is presently a professor of American Civilization and Afro-American Studies 
at Brown University. 

I am very honored to have the opportunity to testify before this subcommittee at 
the request of the distinguished Senator from Illinois, Carol Moseley Braun. I would 
like to divide my comments into three sections. The first section is an overview of 
the history of rap music; the second section is a brief discussion of the plight of 
black youth (especially males) who are in crisis in America; and the third section 
is a brief discussion of gangsta' rap and the responses it has provoked. I hope my 
testimony will provide a constructive way to understand black youth and their cul- 
tural expressions (especially rap music) while avoiding the lamentable tendency of 
scapegoating this most invisible, unheard, misunderstood and politically 
underrepresented of all populations in our nation. 


From the very beginning of its recent history, hip-hop music, or rap as it has come 
to be known has faced various obstacles. Initially rap was deemed a passing fad, 
a playful, harmlessly nonsensical form of cultural hi-jinks that steamed off the mu- 
sical energies of urban black teens. As it became obvious that rap was here to stay, 
a permanent fixture in black (ghetto) youth's musical landscape, it went from dis- 
missal to denigration, and came under attack from both black and white quarters. 
Is rap really as dangerous as many (adults) would have us believe? Or are there 
any redeeming characteristics to rap music that warrant our serious, critical atten- 
tion? I will attempt to answer these and other questions as I explore the culture 
of hip-hop. 

Trying to pinpoint the exact origin of rap is a tricky process that depends on when 
one acknowledges a particular cultural expression or product as "rap. Rap has been 
variously traced back to Bessie Smith's rapping to a beat in some of her music, to 
Pigmeat Markham's "Heah Comes De Judge," to the revolutionary verse of the Last 
Poets, to the music of Gil Scott-Heron ("the revolution will not be televised") and 
so on. Some have gone back even further, citing ancient African oral traditions as 
the antecedents to various contemporary African-American cultured practices. 

In any case, the modern history of rap probably goes back to the mid 1970's, and 
in the burgeoning hip-hop cultural folklore, to the rap song, "Rapper's Delight," by 
the group Sugar Hill Gang. Although there were other (mostly underground) exam- 
ples of rap, this record is regarded as the signal barrier breaker, birthing hip-hop 
and consolidating the infant art form's popularity. This first stage in rap record pro- 
duction was characterized by rappers placing their rhythmic, repetitive speech over 
well know black music (mostly r&b) hits. "Rapper's Delight," was rapped over the 
music to a song made by the popular 1970's r&b group. Chic, entitled. Good Times." 


Though rap would later expand and perfect it's musical and technical virtuosity 
through instrumentation, drum machines, and sampling existing records, making it 
creatively symbiotic, the first stage was benignly parasitic. 

As rap grew its expanded expression was still limited to mostly inner cities and 
particularly its place of origin. New York City. Rap artists like Funky 4 Plus 1, Kool 
Moe Dee Busy Bee, Afrika Bambaata, Cold Rush Brothers, Kurtis Blow, DJ Koo 
Hurk and Grandmaster Melle Mel were experimenting with this developing musical 
genre. As it evolved rap began to critically reflect upon the terrain of its genesis, 
describing and scrutinizing the social, economic and political constituents that led 
to its emergence and development: drug addiction, police brutaUty, teen pregnancy, 
and various forms of material deprivation. This new development was both ex- 
pressed and precipitated by Kurtis Blow's, "Those Are The Breaks,' and the most 
influential and important rap song to emerge in this period of rap history, Ihe 
Message " by the group Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. The vision this 
song portrayed screeched against the canvas of most suburban sensibilities, employ- 
ing hues of dark social misery and stains of profound urban catastrophe in picturing 
inner city life for black Americans: 

You'll grow up in the ghetto living second rate/And your eyes will sing 
a song of deep hate/The places you play and where you stay. Looks like one 
great big alleyway/You'll admire all the number book takers/Thugs, pinips 
and pushers, and the big money makers/Drivin' big cars, spendin twenties 
and tens. And you want to grow up to be just like them * * * its like a 
jungle sometimes/it makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under. 

The Message, along with Flash's New York, New York, pioneered the so- 
cial awakening of rap, catalyzing its maturation into a form of social pro- 
test, musical creation, and cultural expression that characterizes so much 
of contemporary rap. 
As its fortunes slowly grew rap was still viewed by the music industry as a form 
of cultural expression that would cease as black youth became bored and moved on, 
as they did with break dancing. With the advent of the group Run-D.M C. however, 
rap was moved into a different sphere of artistic expression that signalled rap s in- 
creasing control of its own destiny, Run-D.M.C. is widely recognized as the pro- 
genitor of modern rap's integration of social commentary, creatively diverse musical 
elements and uncompromised cultural identification that pushed rap into the main- 
stream, and made certain of its future as an American musical genre with an identi- 
fiable tradition. Run-D.M.C.'s stunning commercial and critical success almost sin- 
glehandedly landed rap into the homes of manv black, and non-black persons across 
America, by: producing the first rap album to be certified gold (500,000 copies sold), 
the first rap song to be featured on the 24-hour music video channel MTV, and the 
first rap album— 1987's "Raising Hell"— to go triple platinum (3 million copies sold) 
On "Raising Hell," Run-D.M.C. combined the Sophisticated techmcal virtuosity ot 
its D.J. Jam Master Jay, the raw shrieks, scratches, glitches and language of the 
street, and the innovative and ingenious appropriation of hard rock guitar nils, in 
so doing Run-D.M.C. symbolically and substantively wedded two traditions: the 
waning subversion of rock music, and the rising, incendiary aesthetic of hip-hop 
music to produce a poignant and provocative hybrid of fiery lyricism and potent cri- 
tique. "Raising Hell,^ ended with the rap anthem "Proud To Be Black, intomng its 
unabashed racial pride: 'Ta know I'm proud to be Black ya'U, And thats a fact yall/ 
* * * Now Harriet Tubman was born a slave. She was a tiny black woman when 
she was raised/She was livin' to be givin'. There's a lot that she gave/There s not 
a slave in this day and age, I'm proud to be black * * *" ^ , 

At the same time rap, propelled by Run-D.M.C.'s epochal success, found an arena 
within which to concentrate its subversive cultural didacticism aimed at addressing 
racism, classism, social neglect and urban pain, and discovered a place that allowed 
it to engage in rituahstic refiisals of censored speech: the rap concert. The rap con- 
cert creates space for cultural resistance and personal agency, loosing the strictures 
of tyrannizing surveillance and demoralizing condemnation, and substituting rel- 
atively autonomous, often enabling, forms of self-expression and cultural creativity. 
However Run-D.M.C.'s success, which greatly increased the visibihty and viabil- 
ity of rap music through record sales and rap concerts, brought along another 
charge which has had a negative impact on rap's perception bv the general pubhc, 
spanning the ideological and racial spectrum, (but certainly lodged in a secure gen- 
eration niche above the age of 25): the claim that rap music expresses, and causes, 
violence. Tipper Gore has repeatedly sang the song, saying that rap music appeals 
to "angry, disillusioned, unloved kids," and tells them it is okay to beat people up. 
Violent incidents at rap concerts in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta, 
Cincinnati, and New York City have only reinforced the popular perception that rap 


is intimately linked to violent social behavior by mostly black and Latino inner city 
kids. Countless black parents, too, have had negative reactions to rap music, and 
the black radio and media establishment, although not as vocal as Gore, have voted 
with their silence allocating much less air play and print coverage to rap than war- 
ranted by its impressive record sales. 

Such reactions betoken a shallow understanding of rap, and in many cases an un- 
willingness to listen to the Ijrrics of many (but not all) rap songs, which counsel anti- 
violent and anti-drug behavior among the youth who are their captive audience. 
Many rappers have spoken directly against violence, as rapper KRS-One, on his 
song "Stop The Violence". Also, a top seUing rap record in America in 1989, entitled 
"Self-Destruction," opened with a quote from Malcolm X, insisted that violence pre- 
dated rap, and spoke against escalating black on black crime that erodes the social 
and communal fabric of already debased black inner cities across America: "Well to- 
day's topic is self-destruction, It really ain't the rap audience that's buggin'/It's one 
or two suckers, ignorant brothers, Tryin' to rob and steal from one another * * * 
'Cause the way we live is positive. We don't kill our relatives/ * * * Back in the 60's 
our brothers and sisters were hanged. How could you gang-bang?/! never, ever ran 
from the Ku Klux Klan, and I shouldn't have to run from a olack man, 'Cause that's/ 
Self-destruction, ya headed for self-destruction * * * " 

Despite such potent messages, many mainstream blacks and whites persist in cat- 
egorically negative appraisals of rap music, displaying a disappointing inability 
(often fed bv a lack oi desire) to distinguish between enabling, productive rap mes- 
sages and the social violence that exists in many inner city communities, and often 
reflected in rap songs. Of course, it is difficult for a culture that is serious about 
the maintenance of social arrangements, economic conditions, and political choices 
that create and reproduce poverty, racism, sexism, classism and violence, to display 
a significant appreciation for musical expressions that contest and scandalize the 
existence of such problems in black and Latino communities across America. What 
is doubly disappointing, however, is the continued complicity of black radio stations 
in this sordid equivalent to Alan Bloom's and E.D. Hirsch's eUtist cultural and intel- 
lectual agenda, that amounts to opprobrious bases for judging the suitability and 
propriety of musical tastes. 

liie conspiracy of silence is not limited to black radio, however, as expressions of 
conservative black cultural sensibilities pervade the print media as well. Although 
rapper M.C. Shan believes that most anti-rap bias arises from outside the black 
community, he faults black radio for depriving rap of adequate airplay, and laments 
the fact that "if a white rock n' roll magazine like Rolling Stone or Spin can put 
a rapper on the cover and Ebony and Jet won't, that means there's really something 

In this regard, rap music is emblematic of the shift in aesthetic sensibilities that 
divides blacks inter-generationally, and symbolizes the brazen economic barriers 
which increasingly blockade underclass blacks from middle and upper-middle class 
blacks. Rap, in fine, is a testimony to the intraracial class division which has been 
in process in African-American communities for the last thirty years. The increasing 
social isolation, economic desperation, political degradation and cultural exploitation 
undergone by most underclass communities in the past few decades, then, has given 
rise to a form of musical expression which captures the terms of underclass exist- 

This does not suggest, however, that rap has been limited to the underclass, only 
that its main ingredients (major themes, styles, etc.) continue to be drawn from the 
complexities, conflicts and contradictions of black urban life. One of the newer 
trends in rap music, though, is the development of "pop" rap, by groups like J.J. 
Fad, The Fat Boys, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, and Tone Loc. D.J. Jazzy 
Jeff and The Fresh Prince, for example, are two suburbanites from South West 
Philadelphia and Winfield (for that matter, the most radical rap group. Public 
Enemy, are suburbanites from Long Island). D.J. Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince's 
album, "He's The D.J., I'm The Rapper," has sold over 3 million copies, primarily 
due to their enormously successful single, "Parents Just Don't Understand." This 
record, which rapped humorously about various crises associated with being a teen, 
struck a chord with teenagers across racial and class spectrums, signalling the ex- 
ploration of rap's populist terrain, and could well have been the soundtrack to 
'Risky Business." Fresh Prince's success on the television sitcom "Fresh Prince of 
Bel-Air" attests to his popular appeal. 

Rapper Tone Loc's success also expresses rap's division between hardcore (social 
consciousness and racial pride backed by raw, driving rhythms) and pop (exploration 
of common territory between races and classes, usually devoid of social message). 
This division, while expressing the expansion of rap, also means that companies and 
willing radio executives have increasingly chosen pop rap as more acceptable than 


its more realistic, politically conscious counterpart. Loc is an L.A. rapper whose first 
single, "Wild Thing," sold over two million copies, topping Billboard's Hot Singles 
Chart, the first rap song to achieve this height. Loc's success was sparked by his 
video's placement in heavy rotation on MTV, which devotes an hour on Saturday's 
to To! MTV Raps," a show that has become so popular that a daily half-hour seg- 
ment has been added. 

D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and Tone Loc's success inevitably raises the 
specter of mainstream dilution, the threat to every emergent form of cultural pro- 
duction in American culture, particularly the fecund musical tradition that comes 
from Black America. For many, this means the sanitizing of rap's expression of 
urban realities, resulting in sterile hip-hop which, devoid of its original fire, will of- 
fend no one. (Run-D.M.C.'s followup to "Raising Hell," 1988's "Tougher Than Leath- 
er," from their movie of the same name, is sometimes cited as a case in point). This 
scenario, of course, is a familiar denouement to the story of most formerly subver- 
sive musical genres. 

Also, MTV's early acceptance of rap, and the staging of rap concerts run by white 
promoters willing to take a chance on rap artists, reflected the sad state of cultural 
affairs in many black communities, whose continued refusal to acknowledge authen- 
tic, (not to mention desirable) forms of rap artistry, ensured rap's early existence 
on the margins of many black communities. More tragically, by turning their backs 
on rap music, promotion of rap concerts, and charity benefits utilizing the talents 
and influence of rap artists, many black businesses closed the door on viable ways 
of strengthening the weak economic infrastructure of many inner city communities. 

Perhaps the example of another neglected and devalued black musical tradition, 
the blues, can be helpful in understanding what is occurring between rap, segments 
of the black community, and the mainstream. With its mostlv young white audience, 
many young blacks (and older ones too), and older whites do not support the blues 
through concert patronage or record buying, thus neglecting a musical genre that 
was closely identified with devalued, degraded and despised people: poor southern, 
agrarian blacks, and the northern, urban black poor, the first stratum of the devel- 
oping underclass. 

In many ways, the blues functioned for another generation of blacks in a \vay 
similar to how rap functions for young blacks today: as a source of racial identity; 
permitting forms of boasting and asserting machismo for devalued black men suffer- 
ing from social emasculation; allowing commentary on social and personal condi- 
tions in uncensored lang^iage; and the ability to transform hurt and anguish into 
art and commerce. Even in its heyday, however, the blues existed as a secular musi- 
cal genre over against the religions sensibilities which described the blues as devil's 
music and the conservative black cultural sensibilities which viewed the blues as 
slightly barbaric. These feeUngs, along with the direction of southern agrarian musi- 
cal energies into a somewhat more accessible and populist soul music, ensured the 
contraction of the economic and cultural basis for expressing life experience in the 
blues idiom. 

Robert Cray's new found success in mainstreaming the blues perhaps completes 
the cycle of survival for devalued forms of black music: it originates in a context 
of anguish and pain, and joy and happiness; it expresses those emotions and ideas 
in a musical language and idiom peculiar to its view of life; it is altered due to cul- 
tural sensibilities and economic factors/realities, and is refracted to the world 
through the prism of mainstream distribution, packaging and consumption for lei- 
surely or cathartic pleasure through concert attendance or record bujdng. Also, in 
the process, the artist him/herself is removed from the immediate context and origi- 
nal site of his/her artistic production. Moreover, besides the everyday ways in which 
the music is employed in a variety of entertainment functions, it may be occasion- 
ally employed in contexts which undermine its critique of the status quo and used 
to legitimize a setting which, in negative ways, has partially given rise to its expres- 

The most recent example of this is Lee Atwater's positioning of himself as a privi- 
leged patron of the blues and soul music traditions in the 1990 Bush inauguration 
festivities, preceded by his racist use of the Willie Horton case. Atwater's use of 
Willie Horton viciously played on the very prejudices against black men that has 
often led to blues musicians expressing the psychic, personal and social pain occa- 
sioned by racism in American (Political) culture. Rap's visibility may alter this pat- 
tern as it continues to grow, but its self-defined continuing challenge is to niaintain 
its aesthetic, cultural and political proximity to its site of original expression: the 

Interestingly, a new wave of rap artists may be accomplishing this goal, but vnth 
foreboding consequences. For example, N.W.A. (Niggers With Attitudes) reflect the 
brutal circumstances that define the boundaries within which most underclass black 


kids in L.A. must live. For the most part they have, unlike their socially conscien- 
tious counterparts PubUc Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, and Stetsasonic, no eth- 
ical remove from the violence, gang bangin' and drugs in L.A.'s inner city. In their 
song "The Police," a sample of their reality: 

Fuck the police, comin' straight from the underground. A young nigger 
got it bad 'cause I'm brown/And not the other color, so police think. They 
have the authority to kill a minority/ * ♦ * Searchin' my car looking for the 
product, Thinkin' every nigger is sellin' narcotic/ * * * But don't let it be 
a black and a white one, 'Cause they'll slam ya down to the street top, 
Black police showin' out for the white cop * * * 

Such expressions of violence certainly reflect the actual life circumstances of many 
black and Latino youth caught in the desperate cycle of drugs and gangs involved 
in L.A. ghetto living. N.W.A. portrays a view of life that celebrates a lethal mix of 
civic terrorism and personal cynicism. Their attitude is both one answer to, and the 
logical outcome of the violence, racism add oppression in American culture. On the 
other hand, their vision must be criticized, for the stakes are too high for the luxury 
of moral neutrality. Having lived the life they rap about, N.W.A. understands the 
viciousness of police brutality. However, they must also be challenged to develop an 
ethical perspective on the drug gangs which duplicate police violence in black on 
black crime. While rappers like N.W.A. perform an invaluable service by rapping in 
poignant and realistic terms about urban underclass existence, they must be chal- 
lenged to expand their moral vocabulaiy and be more sophisticated in their under- 
standing that description alone is insufficient addressing the crises of black urban 
life. Groups like N.W.A. should be critically aware that blacks are victims of the vio- 
lence of both state repression and gang violence; that one form of violence (as they 
understand) is often the response to the other, and that blacks continue to be cap- 
tive to disenabling lifestyles (gang-bangin', drug dealing), that cripple the life of 
black communities. 

Also problematic is the sexist sentiment that pervades so much of rap music, ex- 
pressing the sexism that continues to mediate the relations among the younger 
black generation with lamentable intensity. As Harry Allen says in an Essence mag- 
azine article,: "As I once told a sister, hip-hop lyrics are, among other things, what 
a lot of Black Then say about Black women when Black women aren't around * * * 
Because women are the ones best able to define sexism, they will have to challenge 
the music — tell it how to change and make it change — if change is to come. Oruy 
then will record companies cease the release of cuts that call for bitch-smacking." 

While it — is true that — rap's sexism is indeed a barometer of the general tenor 
and mood that mediates black male/female relations, it is not primarily the role of 
women to challenge. Rather, it must flow from women and men who are sensitive 
to the ongoing sexist attitudes and behavior which dominate black male/female rela- 
tionships. Because, women do not by and large run record companies, or even head 
independent labels which have their records distributed by larger major corpora- 
tions, it is naive to assume that the protest by women alone will arrest the spread 
of sexism in rap. Female rappers are certainly a potential resource for challenging 
existing sexist attitudes, but given the sexist barriers that patrol rap's borders, 
(even though rap activity among women is increasing), men who rap must be chal- 
lenged by non-sexist men, especially male rappers, who contest the portrayal of 
women in most rap music. The constant reference to women as "skeezers," bitches, 
and ho's, only reinforce the perverted expression of male dominance and patriarchy, 
and reasserts the coerced inferiority and objectification of women, constituting them 
as sexual obiects meant exclusively for male pleasure. 

Fortunately, many of the problems related to rap, particuleirly with black radio, 
media and community acceptance, have only fostered a sense of camaraderie that 
transcends in crucial ways the fierce competitive streak in rap that, at its best mo- 
ments, urges rappers on to creative musical heights. While the "dis"' rap is alive 
and well (which humorously musicalizes "the dozens," with rappers playfully, but 
not always, talking about other rappers), the overall feeling among rap artists that 
rap must exist and flourish outside the sanctions of traditional institutional means 
of garnering high visibility or securing record sales (air-play, print media exposure), 
has directed a communal energv into the production of their music. 

The current state of affairs has also precipitated cooperative entrepreneurial ac- 
tivity among young black persons. The rap industry has spawned a number of inde- 
pendent labels, providing young blacks (mostly men) with experience as heads of 
their own businesses and exposure as managers of talent, positions that might oth- 
erwise be unavailable to them. It also means that rap has flourished, for the most 
part, independent of the tight constraints imposed by major music corporations, and 

88-3QR n - Qt^ _ o 


independent of the patronage relations which develop under the severely regimented 
distribution of capital to specific genres of music in tnese corporations. 

Although many independent companies have struck distrioution deals with major 
labels, such as Atlantic, MCA, Columbia, and Warner Brothers, it is usually the 
case that, given the major labels inexperience in rap, their continued conservatism 
in musical taste and in anticipating trends in rap, the independent labels continue 
to control their destinies by teaching the majors invaluable lessons about street 
sales, the necessity to have a fast rate of delivery from production of record to its 
date of distribution, remaining close to the sensibilities of the street, and a willing- 
ness to experiment and be diverse in its marketing/business approach as rap itself 
continues to diversify its style. 

What is also gratifying in rap is the expression of the ongoing preoccupation with 
literacy that has impelled the African-American community forward since the incep- 
tion of legally coerced illiteracy under slavocracy. Rap artists explore grammatical 
creativity, verbal wizardry, and linguistic innovation in the art of oral communica- 
tion with a welcome vengeance. The rap artist, as Cornel West has indicated, is a 
bridge fl^re who combines the two potent traditions in black culture: preaching 
and music. The rap artist is the figure who appeals to the rhetorical practices elo- 
quently honed in African-American religious experiences, and the cultural potency 
of black singing/musical traditions to produce an engap;ing hybrid. In a sense, they 
are truly urban griots dispensing social and cultural critique. The culture of hip-hop 
has generated a lexicon oi life that expresses rap's b-boy/b-girl worldview, a perspec- 
tive that takes delight in the postmodern practice of demystifying high classical 
strictures on language, and celebrates the culturally encodea twists of phrases that 
communicate in tneir own idiom. 

What is also refreshing about hip-hop culture is the revival of an explicit histori- 
cism that combats the amnesia threatening to further consign the measured 
achievements of the recent black past into disabling lapses of memory. Hip-hop has 
infused a revived sense of historical pride into young black minds that is salutary 
insofar as it provides a solid base for self-esteem. Rap music has also focused re- 
newed attention on black nationalist discourse and black radical thought. This re- 
vival has been best symbolized by the rap group Public Enemy. Public Enemy an- 
nounced its black nationalism in embryonic form on their first album, "Yo! Bum 
Rush The Show," but their vision sprang forward full blown in their important, "It 
Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back." The albums's explicit black national- 
ist language and cultural sensibilities were joined with a powerful mix of music, 
beats, screams, noise, and rhythms from the streets. Its message is provocative, 
even jarring, a precis of the contained chaos and channeled rage that informs the 
most politically astute rappers. 

On the cut Bring The Noise," they intone: "We got to demonstrate, come one now, 
they're gonna have to wait/Till we get it right/ Radio stations I question their black- 
ness/They call themselves black, but we'll see if they'll play this/Turn it up! Bring 
the noise!* * *," Public Enemy speaks also of the criminality of prison conditions 
(as they have rapped about before a prison audience at Riker's Island) and how dope 
dealers fail the black community. Their historical revivalism is noteworthy, as they 
rap on "Party For Your Right To Fight" (a twist on the Beastie Boys): "Power Equal- 
ity/And we're out to get it/I know some of you ain't wit' it/This party started right 
in '66/With a pro-Black radical mix/Then at the hour of twelve/* * * J. Edgar Hoo- 
ver, and he coulda' proved to 'ya/He had King and X set up/Also the party with 
Newton, Cleaver and Seale/* * * Word from the Honorable Elijah Muhammed/ 
Know who you are to be Black/* * * the original Black Asiatic man * * * " Public 
Enemy troubled more socio-cultural waters with their Nation of Islam views, saying 
in "Don't BeUeve The Hype," : "The follower of Farrakhan/Don't tell me that you un- 
derstand/Until you hear the man * * * " 

Such rap displays the power and pitfalls associated with the revival of earlier 
forms of black radicaUsm, nationalism and cultural expression. The salutary aspect 
of the historical revival is that it raises consciousness about important figures, 
movements and ideas which prompted the racial, social and political progress that 
permits rappers to express their visions of life in American culture. 'This renewed 
nistoricism permits young blacks to discern links between the past and their own 
present circumstances, using the past as a fertile source of social reflection, cultural 
creation and political resistance. 

On the other hand, it has also led to some forms of historical recuperation that 
do not provide critical distance from that past, but are rather unquestioningly imita- 
tive, attempting to replicate the past without challenging or expanding it. This has 
led some young blacks to embrace present exemplars of black nationalist discourse, 
for example, without understanding the function that figure plays in undercutting, 
or representing oppositional or antithetical elements to the figures and ideas they 


would celebrate and learn from. (The relationship between followers and admirers 
of Malcolm X who uncritically embrace Farrakhan comes immediately to mind). 
Thus, their historical revival fadls to illumine as powerfully as it might, and the 
present generation of black youth, including rappers, fails to benefit as fully from 
the lessons that it so powerfully recuperates and appeals to. 

This of course is one result of the lack of dialogue, understanding and communica- 
tion between various segments of the black community, particularly along 
generational and class lines which are symbolized in the black community's re- 
sponse to rap. Historical revival cries out for contexts that will provide the bases 
for revision and expansion that render the past understandable and usable. This 
can not occur if large segments of the black community continue to be segregated 
from the most exciting cultural, political and social transformation occurring in con- 
temporary American life, captured in the artistic expression, cultural exploration, 
political activity and historical revival of hip-hop artists. 

Rap is a form of profound musical, cultural and social creativity. It expresses the 
desire of young black people to reclaim their history, reactivate forms of black radi- 
calism, and contest the powers of despair, hopelessness and genocide that presently 
besiege the black community. Besides being the most powerful form of black music 
today, rap projects a style of self onto the world that disciplines ultimate social de- 
spair into forms of cultural resistance, and transforms the ugly terrain of ghetto ex- 
istence into a searing portrait of life as it must be lived by millions of voiceless peo- 
ple. For that reason alone, rap deserves attention, and should be taken seriously, 
and for its productive healthy expressions it should be promoted as a worthy form 
of artistic expression and cultural projection, and an enabling source of communal 


I have given a brief overview of rap so that we may understand its emergence 
within black culture as both artistic expression and cultural politics, and to better 
comprehend the forces that constrain the lives of our black youth and that give rise 
to rap music. I now want to turn my attention to the population that is most often 
discussed, and feared, in debates about the tragic condition of urban black America: 
black males. 

Urban America is living through an epidemic of violence that has targeted and 
viciously transformed black male life. Signs of a crisis among black males are pain- 
fully plentiful in cities like Chicago, for instance, as even a glance at recent head- 
lines proves. In Cabrini-Green, two black male teens were gunned down, the first 
murders there since a gang "truce" was adopted after 7-year-old Dantrell Davis was 
slain last October. A 15-year-old black youth was wounded by police after allegedly 
pointing a .38-caliber gun at two police officers. A black male teen was shot after 
nis vehicle was carjacked by five black youth between 17 and 19. And just last week, 
a young black male teacher was shot to death while visiting his brother. 

What does all this mean? With chilling redundancy, black males are dying at the 
hands of other black males. The mutual harming of black males has furnished the 
thematic reservoir from which contemporary black films from Boyz N The Hood to 
Menace II Society have drawn in portraying the cruel consequences of urban col- 
lapse on black male life. The situation for black men, especially juvenile and young 
adult males, is now so decidedly lethal, so fatally flung to the nethermost regions 
of chronic hopelessness, that terms usually reserved for large-scale social catas- 
trophes — terms Uke "genocide" and "endangered species" — are now applied to black 
men with troubling regularity. 

Other cultural critics have concluded that black male violence is the exclusive re- 
sult of pathological cultural tendencies working themselves out with self-destructive 
fury. On this view, black male aggression is part of a larger black cultural malaise 
manifest in welfare dependency, criminal lifestvles, gang activity and other morally 
impaired behavior associated with an ominously expanding "underclass." And even 
when other, more reasonable, critics weigh in on the causes and consequences of 
black male violence, their analyses often skid dangerously close to reductionist cul- 
tural arguments that blame the victims of violence for its existence. 

Things have gotten so out of hand, so far beyond the pale of reasonable resolution 
that the horizon of clarity often recedes behind vigorous yet contradictory attempts 
to understand and explain the predicament of black men. How then should we pro- 
ceed? First, we must comprehend the staggering array of difficulties that hound and 
hurry black males from, the cradle to the grave. The extent of social injuries to 
black male flourishing is indexed in the virtually mind-numbing statistical htany 
that in its sheer recitation is the most powerful testimony to a hydra-headed crisis. 
Black males are more likely than any other group to be spontaneously aborted. Of 


all babies, black males have the lowest birth weights. Black males have the highest 
infant mortality rates. Black males have the greatest chance of dying before they 
reach 20. Although they are only six percent of the United States population, blacks 
make up half the male prisoners in local, state and federal jails. Thirty-two percent 
of black men have incomes below the poverty level. Fifty percent of black men under 
21 are unemployed. But it doesn't end here. 

Between 1980 and 1985, the life expectancy for white males increased from 63 to 
74.6 years, and only from 59 to 65 years for black males. Between 1973 and 1986, 
the real earnings of black males between the ages of 18 and 29 fell 31, percent, as 
the percentage of young black males in the work farce plummeted 20 percent. Sui- 
cide is the third leading cause of death among young black men. And as illustrated 
above, black-on-black homicide is the leading cause of death for black males between 
the ages of 15 and 34, as young black males have a l-in-21 lifetime chance of being 
killed. This is not new; in 1987 alone, more young black men were killed within the 
United States in a single year than had been killed abroad in the entire nine years 
of the Vietnam War. This deadly pattern of problems — which accumulates without 
apparent abatement and taxes black male mortality beyond expected limits — makes 
it difficult to view the black male condition as the product primarily of black cul- 
tural failure. 

Next, we should place black male suffering in a historical framework that 
illumines how black males, far earlier than their recent troubles suggest, have been 
cultvu-ally constituted as a "problem" category. From the plantation to the 
postindustrial city, black males have been seen as brutishly behaved, morally 
flawed, uniquely ugly and fatally oversexed. The creation of negative black male im- 
ages through the organs of popular culture, especially in theological tracts, novels, 
and more recently, in film and television, simply reinforced stereotypes of black 
males as undiscipUned social pariahs, citizens of a corrupt subculture of crime, or 
docile imbeciles. Add to that the influence of scholarly portrayals of black males — 
particularly those contained in ethnographic studies which have both aided and un- 
dermined the cultural status of black men — and one gets a hint of the forces chal- 
lenging a balanced interpretation of their condition. 

Finally, we must pay attention to the structural factors that spawn black male 
suffering. The shift of the labor base of black males from high-waged, low-skilled 
jobs to scarcer service employment, the expanding technical monopoly of information 
services, the part-timing of American labor where more people are employed at 
McDonalds than steel mills (leaving them without employee benefits), and the 
wrenching of the American economy by crises in global capitalism all bode ill for 
black males. These changes, coupled with cycles of persistent poverty, the 
gentrification of inner city living space, the juvenation of crime and the demoraliza- 
tion of poor blacks through cultural stereotypes about widespread loss of initiative, 
only compound the anguish of an already untenable situation for black males. 

I am not suggesting that we can reduce the black male crisis to its economic or 
social determinants. Nor do I contend that black males are without responsibility 
for elements of their condition. I am simply arguing that the debate about black 
males must become much more complex and sophisticated, that its participants 
must embrace a more passionate honesty and rigorous humility in unearthing the 
roots of black male agony. It is much easier to damn black males for being irrespon- 
sible, immoral or even criminal, than it is to own up to how American cultural tradi- 
tions and economic practices have contributed to their pUght. 

This is perhaps most tragically true of the spiritual fatigue and psychic trauma 
occasioned by racism, and the ironic black male self-hate it engenders, most vi- 
ciously expressed in black-on-black homicide, but also insidiously present in less 
conspicuous gestures of mutual black male contempt. After all, black males have not 
been immune to the destructive influence of negative cultural messages about them- 
selves, fatally absorbing surface and subtle reminders that their lives are perishable 
and expendable, less valuable than white lives, and not as useful as famous figures 
like Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby. Neither have they resisted the seductions of vio- 
lence; the addictive character of aggression is symptomatic of American popular cul- 
ture from hockey to Hollywood. It is this combination of violence, racism, self-hatred 
and economic desperation that makes black male life vulnerable to confused and 
often unfair criticism. But if we are to solve the problem of violent black males, we 
must solve their problems. To paraphrase the great Catholic social prophet Dorothy 
Day, we must work toward a world in which it is possible for black youth (especially 
males) to behave decently. 



All of the above discussion gives a clue to how we can best view gangsta' rap. As 
a 35 year-old father of a sixteen year-old son (yes, I was a teen father), and as a 
professor and ordained minister who grew up in Detroit's treacherous inner city, 1 
am disturbed by elements of gangsta' rap. But I'm even more anguished by how 
some black leaders have scapegoated its artists. While gangsta' rap takes the heat 
for a string of social maladies from urban violence to sexual misconduct, the roots 
of our racial misery, remain buried beneath moralizing discourse that, at best, is 
confused, and at worst, is just plain — dishonest. 

There's no doubt that gangsta' rap is often sexist, and that it reflects a vicious 
misogyny that has seized our nation with frightening intensity. Especially for black 
women who are already beset by attacks from outside their communities, to feel the 
thrust of musical daggers to their dignity from within is doubly wounding. How 
painful it must be for black women who fought valiantly during the sixties for black 
pride in the wretched wasteland of American race hatred to hear the dissonant 
chord of disdain carried in the angry epithet "bitch" For these reasons alone, 
gangsta' rappers should be held accountable. 

But gangsta' rap has often reached higher than its ugliest, lowest common denom- 
inator. What so many of its detractors fail to notice is that at its best, gangsta' rap 
has consistently drawn attention to complex dimensions of ghetto life ignored by 
many Americans, black and white. Of all the genres of hip-hop — from socially con- 
scious rap to black nationalist expressions, from pop to hardcore — gangsta' rap has 
most aggressively narrated the pains and possibilities, the fantasies and fears, of 
poor black urban youth. Situated squarely in the serverly violent crimes of the 
prototypical postindustrial city of Los Angeles and its neighboring borders, gangsta' 
rap draws its metaphoric capital in part from the mix of myth and murder that gave 
the Western frontier a dangerous appeal a century ago. 

So when black leaders castigate gangsta' rap without a sense of its brief but in- 
structive history (do they really know the difference between the DBG'z and MC 
Ren?), it appears they are damning gangsta' rap's excessive and romanticized vio- 
lence without trying to figure out what precipitated its rise in the first place. 
Gangsta' rap, and the lifestyles it feeds on and reinforces, is in large measure an 
indictment of the survival strategies of traditional black cultural and political insti- 
tutions. And by evoking the ethical standards of days gone by to urban youth who 
no longer find conventional methods of addressing personal and social calamity use- 
ful or compelling, black leaders simply drive a greater wedge between themselves 
and the black youth they so desperately want to aid. 

Even more troubling is the apparent dishonesty with which the project of reclaim- 
ing urban black youth is proceeding. If we really want to strike at the heart of 
sexism and misogyny in the black community, shouldn't we get closer to the source 
of these nefarious blights? The truth is that the central institution of black culture, 
the black church, which has given hope and inspiration to millions of blacks, has 
also given us embarrassing, even painful, traditions of sexism and misogyny. De- 
spite the great good it has achieved through a heroic tradition of emancipatory lead- 
ership, the black church continues to practice and justify ecclesiastical apartheid. 
Over seventy percent of black church members are female, yet they are closed from 
its central station of power, the pulpit. Most women in black churches cannot be- 
come ordained ministers or deacons, and rarely are the few ordained female min- 
isters elected to pastor churches. 

And yet, without acknowledging this history, or employing it as a useful point of 
departure to discuss the unavoidable frailties of any movement for transformation, 
many black ministerial or church-influenced leaders excoriate rappers for their 
verbal sexual misconduct. It is ironic indeed to listen to civil rights veterans deplore 
the verbal mistreatment of women by gangsta' rappers without mentioning the noto- 
rious sexism of sixties movements for racial liberation, which sexually objectified 
black women. 

Sad, too, is the way in which most black leaders critical of gangsta' rap remain 
silent about the genre's vicious verbal abuse of gays and lesbians, who are often em- 
ployed as metaphors for a lapsed machismo or an inauthentic womanhood. A brutal 
battery of "fags," "punks" and "dykes" are peppered in gangsta' rap's vocabulary of 
rage, and black leaders's failure to make this an issue only reinforces the inferior, 
invisible status of black gays and lesbians in black cultural institutions, including 
the black church. 

Gangsta' rap's greatest sin, in the eyes of many critics, is that it tells the truth 
about practices and beliefs that rappers hold in common with the black elite. This 
music has embarrassed black bourgeois culture and exposed its polite sexism and 


its disregard for gay men and lesbians. We should not continue to blame it for ills 
that existed long before hip-hop uttered its first syllable. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Ladies and gentlemen in the audience, 
this is a Senate hearing and we want to conduct as such. We have 
a number of witnesses. I would like very much to have this panel 
conclude before we take a 15-minute break, but the time really is 
running ahead of us because everybody has ignored the red light. 
Everybody has ignored the red light, so we are going to try to do 
the best we can to keep on a schedule here so that all of the wit- 
nesses will have an opportunity to testify, to give their point of 
view, to give their contribution to this debate. That is why this 
panel has been structured the way it has. So, again, I would im- 
plore you, let us keep this on a fast track, and the applause and 
the like is really not appropriate for a Senate hearing. 

Sergeant Stallworth? 


Mr. Stallworth. Thank you, Ms. Moseley-Braun. First of all, I 
would like to know who put me after the professor here. 


Senator Moseley-Braun. I know. It is tough, isn't it? That is all 
right. You have something important to contribute. 

Mr. Stallworth. I want to take this opportunity to thank you 
for extending me the invitation which made my appearance pos- 
sible. I am Ron Stallworth, a sergeant with the Utah Department 
of Public Safety's Division of Investigation. I am a 20-year law en- 
forcement veteran and I currently hold the position of Gang Intel- 
ligence Coordinator for the State of Utah. 

I sit before you, first of all, as someone who is quite frankly sick 
and tired of picking up the paper, turning on the TV, turning on 
the radio and hearing about or seeing some young person who has 
died in this country as a result of gang violence. I am tired of it. 
I can't emphasize that enough. It has got to stop. 

In 1989, we discovered in Utah that we had an emerging gang 
problem. Some of the Los Angeles gang influence had come to our 
communities. Stereotypically, there was no reason for Utah to have 
a gang problem. The stereot3TDical approach to gangs is that it is 
a minority problem; it is black and Hispanic males. They are prey- 
ing on the white community. They are young. They come from poor 
family backgrounds, a single-parent environment. Usually, mom is 
the one in the household. The father has long since flown the coop 
and they are on welfare. That is the stereotypical approach to what 
constitutes gangs. 

Yet, in my State gang membership consists of all that, but we 
also have good white, middle-class Mormon kids who are gang 
members who are picking up the gun, who are running around 
with blue and red rags, and who are doing drive-by shootings all 
in the name of their particular gang affiliation. 

As I said, in 1989 we discovered all this, and what led me to get 
involved in the area of gangster rap music was that some of these, 
"good, middle-class white Mormon kids" were telling me they were 
learning about this environment through gangster rap lyrics. I am 
not a fan of rap music. I am a product of the Motown era — ^Aretha 
Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and so forth. However, I took the time 


to sit down and listen to what this music was saying. I was quite 
alarmed, quite shocked, and at the same time quite enlightened by 

This music was telling me something, ladies and gentlemen, that 
I feel was very important. I feel that we as a society should listen 
to rap music as a means of maintaining the social pulse of what 
is going on in this community, especially as it pertains to the 
inner-city environment. 

The first great spokesman for black Americans, Frederick Doug- 
las, on his death bed was reported to have said, "agitate, agitate, 
agitate," in response to a question of how to incite social change. 
I believe that gangster rappers represent the latest link in that 
chain, which extends from Douglas to the late, great Supreme 
Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 
and Malcolm X, to the Reverend Jesse Jackson. 

I believe that as we delve deeper into this musical art form, la- 
dies and gentlemen, we must understand that the revolt by the 
youth of America in the 1990's is not based on reasonable, though 
often misguided principles of idealistic social betterment of society 
that fueled the turbulence of the 1960's. 

The youth revolt in the 1990's centers on the idealistic vision of 
the gangster culture and its gun cult of violence. This societal up- 
heaval revolves around the furtherance of territorial battles for 
control and dominance, the expansion of criminal enterprises and 
the exploitation of the young through the expansion of the gangster 
value system as a part of their mind set. This value system is one 
that, through various entertainment mediums which impact the 
lives of young Americans, most notably music, movies and more re- 
cently comic books, has spread throughout the country like a can- 
cer, recognizing no racial, ethnic, socio-economic or geographic 

Gang attitude and behavior is not genetically inherited. It is a 
learned response brought on by interaction with established role 
models. Today, many of these role models are represented in the 
form of gangster rappers, and much of the attitude and behavior 
of the gang culture is reflected in the lyrics of gangster rap music. 

Am I concerned and angry by the content and tone of gangster 
rap lyrics, many of which advocate the killing of police officers? The 
answer is an unequivocal yes. I am angered by it, but at the same 
time, ladies and gentlemen, I understand why these kids are say- 
ing what they are saying about my profession. I am not so naive 
as to believe that we have not done wrong over the years, and that 
is one of the reasons why I got involved in law enforcement. As a 
black American of African descent and, I might add, a proud one, 
I wanted to try and make a difference in this profession. I have 
tried to do that over the course of my career and will continue to 
do so. 

However, I temper my anger by recognizing some important facts 
about gangster rap music. First of all, the youth of America, espe- 
cially those living in inner cities, are hurting physically, but more 
importantly emotionally. These young people feel a sense of aban- 
donment and loss of pride as a result of the system forgetting about 
them. They feel like we simply do not care about them or their 


needs. They have become jaded by the strain of growing up in a 
constant state of violence, neglect and depression. 

They have become frightened, frustrated and angry, but they 
have had a difficult time finding a voice to put a name to that 
which is causing their pain. Through gangster rap music, a lot of 
these young people have found their voice and, as a result, it has 
allowed them to identify that which is causing their pain. Quite 
frankly, they have made America stand up and take notice. Other- 
wise, none of us would be here. 

What I ask from this committee is let us listen to their cry for 
help. Let us try to understand the root causes for the expression 
of their pain in the form of their lyrics. Let us not be controlled 
by negative emotion, but rather seek to fmd common ground to try 
to alleviate the cause of their anguish. Let us not continue to keep 
the gangster rap community at arm's length like a disease plague, 
but rather reach out to embrace them and bring them back into the 
fold of mainstream American society because these young people, 
too, ladies and gentlemen, are our children. 

I might conclude by stating that as a police officer, I represent 
a symbol of what the flag is supposed to represent for this country. 
When I took my oath in the State of Utah, I swore to uphold the 
laws of the State and to defend the Constitution of the United 
States. So all police officers are, in essence, living, walking, breath- 
ing symbols of what this country is all about. 

We have done wrong over the course of the years and we have 
to acknowledge that fact, and I do so wholeheartedly. But at the 
same time, my anger is not directed at these young people. How 
can I be angry at a Snoop Doggy Dog or any of these young rap- 
pers — and I don't like a lot of what they are saying about my pro- 
fession or about women in general, but how can I be angry at them 
when not too far down the street nine people sit in judgment on 
the laws of this land and recently they said it was OK to desecrate 
the flag, the greatest symbol that this country has? 

So if you are allowed to desecrate the flag and talk about the flag 
and bum the flag, in essence, why shouldn't you be allowed to talk 
about cops in the manner that they talk about us, or talk about 
any other subject that they want to talk about? My anger is not 
directed at these young people. My anger is directed at the fat-cat 
music executives that finance them in the first place and allow 
them to be what they are. I think that is where our anger should 
be focused, not at these young people. 

Thank you for your time. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Stallworth follows:] 

Prepared Statement of Sergeant Ron Stallworth on Behalf of the 
Department of Public Safety, Division of In^vestigation 

In order to understand the basis of my approach on the issue of gangs and "gang- 
ster" rap music I feel it is important to iirst understand a little about my back- 

I was born 40 years ago in Chicago, Illinois where I spent the first 4 years of my 
life. My family then moved to El Paso, Texas where I spent my formative years hs- 
tening to the Motown Sound — Stevie Wonder, the Supremes. the Temptations. 
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, the Jackson 5. et. al.; and other so-called "soul" 
artists such as Aretha Franklin. Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and the Godfather of 
Soul— James Brown. Following my graduation from high school in 1971 I briefly at- 
tended West Los Angeles College in Culver City, California. It was at this time that 


I first became aware of a group of red and blue clad black males calling themselves 
Bloods and Crips. 

In 1972 my tamily relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado where I joined the po- 
Uce department in the Police Cadet program. This program was designed to boost 
minority hiring, in what was then an all-white organization, by recruiting qualified 
minorities between the ages of 17-19 to serve in a civilian support capacity. I was 
the first black hired through that program and subsequently found myself enduring 
in that setting what the legendary Jackie Robinson experienced as a pioneering 
trailblazer in professional baseball. Nineteen months later I graduated from the pro- 
gram to receive my commission as a Police Officer, again achieving a "first." 

In 1975 I became a Detective assigned to the narcotics unit — the first person of 
color to achieve this distinction. Along each step of my advancement I found myself 
being under constant microscopic scrutiny by my peers as to whether my race would 
be a factor in hindering my work performance. I was also the brunt of numerous 
jokes with a racial slant attached to them. I subsequently served in the vice and 
intelUgence units and was also assigned to the Colorado Attorney General's Orga- 
nized Crime Strike Force. Between 1980-89 I continued working as a narcotics in- 
vestigator with the now defunct Arizona Criminal Intelligence Agency, Wyoming Di- 
vision of Criminal Investigation, and Utah Narcotics & Liquor Law Enforcement 
Bureau. Interestingly enough, while working in Wyoming I often found myself being 
the only person of color in some of the communities in which I was assigned to con- 
duct investigations. In this setting I frequently received suspicious leers, and was 
the focus of whispered remarks regarding my racial heritage and skin color from 
some of the "fine citizenry." 

In 1989 I was instrumental in getting Utah law enforcement officials to move past 
their self-induced state of denial and finally address the presence of crack cocaine 
dealing Los Angeles black gang members — Bloods and Crips. My concepts for ad- 
dressing this issue were adopted bv the Federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement 
Task Force in Salt lake City. A federal grant, based on these concepts, was later 
obtained resulting in the creation of the Salt lake Area Gang Project, the first multi- 
jurisdictional gang suppression and diversion task force in the State of Utah. I cur- 
rently serve as the Gang Intelligence Coordinator for the Utah Division of Investiga- 

It was also in 1989 that I began studying "gangster" rap music and its correlation 
to the gang cultural environment. This effort began in response to Utah youth I en- 
countered the most unlikely of candidates who did not fit the stereotypical image 
of gang members, who avidly claimed gang affiliation with the Bloods and/or Crips. 
Their response to my queries as to the origin of their knowledge of gangs was that 
they had learned of this unique and disturbing subculture through the listening of 
"gangster" rap music. As a result I authored a federal copyrighted manuscript. 
"Gangster" Rap: Music. Culture & Politics. In 1991 this work was printed (in limited 
numbers) in a federally funded pamphlet. In 1993 my work was published in Crimi- 
nal Organizations The Journal for trie International Association for the Study of Or- 
ganized Crime. 

Since 1992 I have been a national lecturer on the subject of "gangster" rap music 
to a host of federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement organizations. My 
work has been used by several penal institutions in the country as well as by law 
enforcement personnel from several foreign lands including Canada, France, Ger- 
many, and Spain. In addition the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations has 
disseminated my work throughout their worldwide detachments. I have been a 
guest lecturer on "gangster" rap music and gang culture at the University of Utah. 
Brigham Young University, and Westminster College (Utah). In addition I have 
been interviewed on this subject by a variety of print, television, and radio media 
and have been certified as an expert witness in the courts of California and Texas. 


In addressing any issue associated with gangs it must first be fully understood 
and accepted that gangs are first and foremost a culture in and of themselves within 
the structure of American society. The criminal nature of the gang culture and its 
influence on society-at-large is such that we must be prepared to take a somewhat 
different approach in addressing them. 

Traditionally the law enforcement role has been one of reaction. A crime occurs, 
the police are called, a report is taken, a follow-up investigation is undertaken (if 
warranted by the nature of the crime), and, if lucky, a suspect is arrested and jailed 
and the wheels of the criminal justice system proceed in motion. No effort is truly 
made to get to the root causes of the social forces that, over a period of time, led 
the suspect to commit the offense. That effort, when undertaken, is usually left to 


the discretion of the court in terms of ordering evaluation at the hands of trained 

The pervasiveness of the gang culture has stretched across the fabric of American 
society — from urban to rural areas, from the poor inner city minority dominated 
communities to suburbia and its white mainstream middle class affluence. This cul- 
ture recognizes no boundary based on racial or ethnic heritage, socio-economic back- 
ground, or geography. Its absorption into the mind-set of America's youth cvilture 
has spawned a radical change in the philosophy of the law enforcement role in re- 
sponcUng to the challenge. Rather than "react" to the problems posed by the inculca- 
tion of the gang cultural environment and value system on American youth, law en- 
forcement has had to learn to be "proactive" in its approach to dealing with the 
problems associated with gangs. 

That proactive approach has consisted of establishing and/or maintaining a close 
working relationship with a host of law enforcement agencies, sometimes in a task 
force concept, in order to break down the inane barriers which frequently exist be- 
tween agencies competing for public recognition, funding increases, and, in some 
cases, ego enhancement. Gang crime recognizes no jurisdictional limitation and nei- 
ther should the law enforcement community. Being proactive necessitates a closer 
bonding between law enforcement and the community they have taken an oath to 
"serve and protect." Establishing this bond requires the shedding of long held feel- 
ings of mistrust and, in some cases, hatred by individuals on both sides. 

Addressing the issue of gangs from a proactive stance requires that law enforce- 
ment expand its base of function to include a more sociological approach. Because 
they deal with the seamier sides of the gang culture in its naturad environment, 
rather than from sterilized clinical setting, law enforcement has become the "ex- 
perts" to which all trained clinicians come for information in their study of the sub- 
ject. Assuming the sociological stance requires law enforcement to delve deeper into 
the mind-set that governs gang behavior. And what is the nature of that behavior? 

America in the 1990's is experiencing a social revolution among its youth, the 
likes of which has not been seen since the turbulent era of the civil rights revolution 
of the 1960's. However that is where the similarities end. 

In the 1960's the revolt by the young was centered on idealistic visions of social 
and political change for what was perceived by some as being for the betterment 
of the country. Their rebellion against authority was, for the most part, relatively 
peaceful. There was, to be sure, pockets of armed resistance and violent demonstra- 
tion and destruction expressed around the country by those more militant and activ- 
ist in the realization of their ideals; but in their violence they tended to focus on 
individuals and institutions associated with the government. Innocent bystanders 
were not, as a matter of routine, brought into the fray of the battleground. 

The revolt by the young in the 1990's, however, is centered on the idealistic vision 
of the gangster culture and its "cult of violence." Their rebellion is about the nihilis- 
tic upheaval of America. This upheaval is not for the social betterment of American 
society, but rather for the furtherance of their territorial battles for control and 
dominance, the expansion of their criminal enterprises, and the exploitation of the 
young through the expansion of the gangster value system as a part of their mind- 
set. And if, as an innocent bystander, you get caught up in gang violence then it 
is simply too bad, your bad "karma" for being someplace where you shouldn't have 
been — a "mushroom" (because of your insignificance in sprouting up in the wrong 
place at the wrong time). 

The gang value system is one that through the various entertainment mediums 
which impact the lives of young people, most notably music, movies, and more re- 
cently comic books; has spread throughout the country from the skeletal remains 
of the inner cities to the heartlands. It is a value system which demands that con- 
stant verbal challenges and physical displays of manhood be actualized. It is a value 
system that demands respect be shown to the gang or, at the slightest hint of dis- 
respect — real or imagined — violence will be the expected outcome. 

It is a value system that demands immediate gratification. It is an "I'm a get 
mine — now," mentality that does not accept a "wait and earn over time" approach 
to achievement. The quest for immediate action in pursuit of the tangible (i.e., mate- 
rial items of value or distinction) or intangible (i.e. response to a challenge of man- 
hood or respect) is an underlying factor for much in the way of gang violence 
throughout the country. 

It is a value system that glorifies the personality trait of "wild craziness." To ex- 
hibit a psychotic or psychopathic mind-set is seen as a desirable distinction, the 
stuff of gang legend and folklore. This allows for the gang member to achieve an 
element of immortality in the eyes of his peers within the gang. That immortality 
is clearly demonstrated when the gang member exhibiting "craziness" in the per- 


formance of some act furthering the reputation of the gang is killed and his peers 
graffiti his (or her) name on the walls. 

This value system has spread like prairie fire across the country ensnaring young 
people all along the way. Once caught in its trap escape is difficult if not impossible. 
In the Salt lake City metropolitan area the gang vedue system has impacted the 
Uves of children as young as 6 years of age. 

The fast paced violent prone society of the 90's has allowed the gang culture to 
become an icon influencing all aspects of popular youth culture. In many respects 
this influence is nothing more than an extension of the attitude and mores govern- 
ing those young people whose hves unfold in the dismal, sordid squalor of inner city 
streets. These attitudes and mores are reflected in the music, language, and clothing 
styles made popular by the gang cultural environment. Such diverse areas thus 
serve as a means to propogate gang values. 

The appeal which the gang culture has on America's youth allows for an outlet 
for the adolescent expression of anarchy and rebellion. Gang members are not half- 
hearted in their defiance of authority figures. As expressed in a May, 1992 report 
by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office titled, "Gangs, Crime and Vio- 
lence in Los Angeles" : 

Their revolt is total; it confronts and confounds adult authority on every 
level — sex, work, power, love, education, language, dress, music, drugs, al- 
cohol, crime, violence. As icons of popular culture, gangs not only represent 
a powerful group identity utterly inaccessible to adults, they are sur- 
rounded with an appealing aura of outlaw danger, (p. 30) 

Values associated with the gang culture are the spark which ignites teenage fan- 
tasies of rebellion against mainstream society. The irony to this is though the brutal 
destructive reality of the gang lifestyle far supercedes the fantasy, it nonetheless 
does not diminish the power of the myth to attract new throngs of recruits. These 
recruits cover the gamut of the color, socio-economic, and geographic spectrum. 

Why do these young people, especially those who, at least on the surface, do not 
fall within the stereotypical pattern of so-called "youth-at-risk; " flock to embrace the 
gang lifestyle? 

A variety of reasons can be attributed to why young people are drawn towards 
the hght of the gang culture. Those most frequently cited are: 

1. Sense of Identity/Recognition 

2. Sense of Belonging 

3. Sense of Power 

4. Sense of Security & Protection 


In the gang environment having a reputation is a primary motivator in a mem- 
ber's actualization of his existence. The effort to attain and subsequently maintain 
a reputation is all- consuming. Once established the reputation becomes an integral 
part of the gang members identity. It defines the individual throughout the remain- 
der of his life and sets the tone for his role within the fraternal structure of the 
gang. It is a "badge of honor" to be worn with pride and distinction within the con- 
fines of the culture. The status conveyed to the individual as a result of an estab- 
lished reputation is immeasurable. The nature of that reputation determines the 
level of influence — "juice" — the individual has among his peers within the gang. 

When an individual proudly (and defiantly) proclaims his allegiance to the gang, 
he is boldly affirming his sense of loyalty and commitment to his "homies" (fellow 

fang members) and the "hood" (neighborhood/clique) to which he belongs and which 
as nurtured him (or her) along the way. In the process he is announcing his exist- 
ence in the gang environment, thereby enhancing his reputation. In essence he is 
expressing his sense of identity. 

Gang members, stereotypically, come from economically handicapped families. In 
the vast majority of cases they have been raised in a single parent household, ab- 
sent a father or other positive male influences. They tend to be poor achievers in 
school and, in some cases, are functionally illiterate. They have a low self-esteem 
brought on by their lack of achievement and as a result tend to be school dropouts 
and thus unemployed or, at the very least, employed in low paying jobs. Finally, 
gang members tend to fall primarily within the scope of minority classification. 

All of the above factors have led to a societal "lockout" of gang members and their 
world from that of mainstream America. Without a definite sense of identity such 
individuals have no special recognition. Associating with a gang allows these alien- 
ated and dysfunctional individuals to achieve some measure of identity, social sta- 
tus, and a sense of purpose in their lives. It gives recognition and meaning and a 


sense of pride to their existence. Their pride is reflected in graffiti pronouncements 
of defiance, loyalty, and areas of achievement. This means of self-expression com- 
pensates for their low self-esteem and allows them to feel that they are somebody 
of consequence. 

There is, however, a debilitating effect on the individual seeking a sense of iden- 
tity and name recognition through the obtainment of a reputation. The basis of 
street gang activity is centered on anti-social/criminal acts of behavior. If that rep- 
utation is obtained as a result of participation in criminal acts or other forms of 
anti-social behavior, the individual becomes mired in the maintenance of that rep- 
utation through the continuance of such acts. It is a vicious cycle — one criminal act 
or other form of anti-social behavior leading to another which leads to, yet, another. 
Each, in turn, enhances the individual's reputation which further entrenches him 
into the culture and lifestyle of the gang environment. The deeper the individual 
becomes enmeshed in that environment the more difficult it becomes to pull out of 
its constricting influences. 


The need to belong, to be accepted within a group of one's peers, is universal and 
probably as old as man himself. To the individual who feels alienated from the "nor- 
mal" fraternal infrastructure of society this need to belong is especially great. It is 
only natural for such a person to gravitate to a group of like-minded individuals. 
This serves to reinforce the dysfunctional aspect of that person's existence for it is 
gratifjdng to be accepted by others who can identify with your problems. It is re- 
warding to share common values and needs. 

Is this sense of belonging, this need for acceptance that drives dysfunctional and 
alienated youth into the gang culture unique among society? The answer is NO! 
This conclusion can be reached when one considers the socialization aspects of col- 
lege fraternities and sororities, professional organizations (i.e., American Medical 
Association, American Bar Association, et al.), civic groups (i.e., Rotarians, Lions, 
Elks, et al.), and law enforcement support organizations (i.e., P.O. P., I.A.C.P., et al.). 

For such youth the ready acceptance of his peers in the gang is a self-esteem 
builder. The individual derives a sense of satisfaction and is made to feel important 
about himself and his place in the world. The individual can thus achieve a measure 
of status and power which had, heretofore, been denied him (or her). 

Once accepted into the fold of the gang the influence associated with peer pres- 
sure takes firm hold of the individual and guides him deeper into the abyss of per- 
sonal destruction. The effect of peer pressure on a confused, impressionable, and 
alienated young person can be overwhelming and, in most cases where gang involve- 
ment is concerned, destructive. 

In the context of the gang environment peer pressure is most usually negative in 
nature. This is in keeping with the anti-social aspects of gang behavior. For the in- 
dividuals described in the previous paragraph, without benefit of any positive role 
models to guide them in distinguishing right from wrong, the leaders of the gang — 
the O.G.'s (original gangsters) or veteranos — become the role models. In such cases 
peer pressure brought on by the influence of a negative role model can, and in most 
cases does, lead to an increase in the sense of belonging and identification with the 


Power, the lack of it or desire for more, has always been a seducer of man. The 
allure of power, the desire to possess it, serves as a great motivator for the individ- 
ual who has long been isolated from mainstream institutions of achievement. The 
intimidation factor associated with the possession of power is frequently expressed 
by gang members as the reason for accepting the culture as their own. 

Being afflicted with the "power syndrome" is only natural for someone who has 
never had it. Without is you become exploited. With it you become the exploiter. For 
the gang member, having power is a natural consequence of the close association 
and group identity of the gang. With that association comes constant back-up in the 
form of the "homies." Right or wrong, the "homies" will support any stand taken 
by one of their own. Knowledge of this fact can, of itself, reflect an attitude of invin- 
cibility which, in turn, translates to a feeling of power. 

The sense of power associated with gang involvement is best expressed in the 
maxim. "The strong survive while the weak fall by the wayside." In relation to 
street gang members this attitude is a direct reflection of she prison mentality. Pris- 
on gangs have long played a strong and influential role with their youthful street 
counterparts. Many prison gang members received their "prepatory schooling" in the 
street gang environment. This aspect of the prison mentality has been reported on 


by Sgt. Joe Guzman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. In a com- 
prehensive report on the history of the hispanic gang culture, Sgt. Guzman, perhaps 
the foremost law enforcement authority on this subject, states: 

One of the alarming changes the veteranos brought with them from their 
years of incarceration was the prison mentaUty. For example, one prison 
gang member might see that another gang member had something he 
wanted. If he was larger, more powerful, or had more back-up from his 
homeboys than the other inmate, he Hterally just took the item he wanted. 
If he was angered in one fashion or another he retaliated with deadly 
vengeance and commanded the presence of his entire gang to back him up. 

The importance of the need to feel and express a sense of power by gang members 
was also discussed by Useni Eugene Perkins in his study of the history of black 
street gangs in Chicago. In his landmark book. Explosion of Chicago's Black Street 
Gangs: 1900 to present, Mr. Perkins explains: 

For black youth who are alienated and who have low self-esteem, having 
a sense of power is extremely important. It provides them, at least, with 
a feeling of being somebody and of having some control over their lives. It 
also serves as a shield to help them feint off threatening situations. Belong- 
ing to a gang provides a youth with a sense of security and a reputation 
that illicits fear and/or respect from his peers. The gang becomes his base 
of power and allows him to feel important in a society where he would oth- 
erwise be almost completely ignored * * * having a 'sense of power' is 
something they feel is crucial to their survival, (pp. 56-57) 

This concept, as expressed by Mr. Perkins, transcends all racial, ethnic, and socio 
economic backgrounds in the gang culture. 


Many young people join gangs out of the need to feel secure and protected in their 
peer environment. Countless tales have been told to gang investigators all across 
the country of youth victimized by gangs who, out of a "sense of survival," joined 
an existing gang or formed a new one. Membership in a gang ameliorates the inse- 
cure feeling of alienation and lack of self-esteem. If such a youth lives in a "high 
risk" neighborhood this sense of security and need for protection is exacerbated. It 
is to his advantage to become a member of a gang with the protection accorded such 

Ironically it is the "traditional" family unit which usually provides the nurturing 
and protection sought after by alienated young people. Without benefit of this tradi- 
tional support mechanism such youth will seek out association with those capable 
of providing the same functions. Thus the gang fills a void by assuming the role of 
a surrogate family. The gang will envelop its members in a protective barrier 
against any outside force which may try to exert its influence. 

To be in a gang is to choose a distinct though perverse (based on mainstream 
standards), way of Ufe. To accept gang values as a component of one's character 
makeup requires the adoption of distinct physical, verbal, and behavioral modes of 
expression. The acquisition of gang values into an alienated and impressionable 
young mind only serves to reinforce the group identity of the gang which further 
delineates the line of demarcation between the "have nots" (gang members) and the 
"haves" (those in the mainstream flow of American society). 

The basic foundation of the gang value system is centered on loyalty. As men- 
tioned earlier the gang serves as a surrogate family. When no other means of sup- 
port is forthcoming the gang will always be there to provide that sense of "family." 
In situations which evoke high emotional output (such as a death), the gang be- 
comes a means of unifying the neighborhood. When the neighborhood is collectively 
victimized the gang becomes their "warriors," soldiers united in defense of the 

Loyalty in the gang environment is unwavering. That support is unjdelding with 
the issue of right or wrong not being a part of the equation. With the sense of family 
bonding gang members into one unified force, the issue of loyalty serves to further 
solidify the relationship. 

In addition to loyalty the gang value system emphasizes that an ever-present dis- 
play of manliness be the norm. This display is often in the form of hedonistic con- 
quests of the opposite sex. 

For gang members, the need to demonstrate their manhood is expressed in terms 
of verbal and physical displays of sexual prowess and the ability to fight. This is 


especially true if the fight is over a challenge to that manhood or in the cause of 
upholding the honor of the gang. 

In the gang value system displays of machismo are enacted in conjunction with 
a psychotic/psychopathic attitude. This attitude is the stuff on which reputations are 
made and gang brotherhood is solidified. The readiness, the avid desire to fight 
serves as a mechanism for gang members to release pent up hostility and aggres- 
sion. This release is especially strong in terms of rebellion against mainstream sym- 
bols and institutions of authority. As expressed in the L.A. District Attorney's re- 

* * * The core activities of the gang are partying and fighting. These are 
the things that make gangs both frightening and appealing to young boys. 
These are the things that build and define group loyalties. Even criminal- 
ity, which is probably the public's main perception of what gangs are about, 
is less a core value of the gang than a byproduct of the emphasis on 
peutying and fighting. 

Masculinity in the psychology of the gang culture is rooted deep in the storied 
Mexican "machismo" and the celebrated anti-hero, Stagolee, of Black folklore. As I 
quoted in my manuscript on "gangster" rap music: 

[Stagolee] lived hard, died hard, and talked plenty of trash in between. 
He was a survivor who openly challenged the conventional wisdom. He 
flaunted his blackness, and defied the odds against him to achieve success 
in spite of a host of obstacles placed before him by society (not the least 
of which was prejudice based on skin color, (p. 48) 

The vision offered by Stagolee and others in Black folklore exemplifies the proto- 
type of the "bad ass nigger" image highly sought after by black gang members. This 
macho image transcends racial/ethnic boundaries and serves as a mainstay of the 
gang culture — from both the male and female perspective. As stated in the report 
by the L.A. District Attorney: 

* * * The gang's ideal man is virtually identical to the romantic myth 
of the gunfighter of the old west — a two fisted, hard drinking, dangerous 
man who is quick to avenge any insult; he lives and dies by violence, with 
his exploits rousing fear and respect in the hearts of men — and in the 
hearts of women, fear and desire. Untamed by any authority, untrammelled 
by anything like a job or family, above (or outside) the law, he nevertheless 
obeys a code of manly honor; and, when the little town is threatened by 
ruthless outsiders, he is a far more potent protector than the puny forces 
of law and order, (p. 34) 

The gang member thrives on the visible display of this wild, hell-raising, outlaw 
persona. He (or she) openly flaunts his derision for conventional societal mores and 
achieves great satisfaction in challenging those conventions. He is a risk taker be- 
cause it is the manly thing to be (and do), not to mention that it serves as an 
enhancer for his reputation — a means of self- survival. It is important to the under- 
standing of the gang mentality and value system that the concept of the psychotic/ 
psychopathic personality — "wild craziness" — be fully comprehended. 

The attitude of "wild craziness" (referred to as Locura in the hispanic gang cul- 
ture — a state of being more so than a state of mind) has become popular fodder for 
movies and "gangster" rap music depicting the inner city environment which 
spawned the black gang culture. Movies such as Boyz 'N the Hood, Strapped, Men- 
ace II Society, South Central, Juice, and Colors; and "gangster" rap songs such as 
Gangsta-Gangsta, Fuck the Police, The nigga ya love to hate, Bonnie & Clyde 
Theme, Packin' a Gun, .380 on that ass, and Can't fuck with a nigga (to name but 
a few) speak of the attitude and perspective of the inner city black youth. 

This attitude and perspective is best summed up in what some "gangster" rap 
songs have described as America's Nightmare: "The young black male who doesn't 
give a fuck about anjrthing." Hand in hand with this mind-set and lending fuel to 
its fire are the elements of racism, poverty, xenophobia, ignorance, intolerance, mi- 
sogyny, greed, an intense hatred for the law enforcement establishment, and a dis- 
regard for the value of human life. The underlying purpose to this mind-set, fre- 
quently stated in "gangster" rap lyrics, is the pursuit of nihilistic change in Amer- 
ican society. As stated on an album cover by one prominent "gangster" rapper: 

The injection of black rage into the American white youth is the last 
stage of preparation for the revolution. Prepare — it's goin' down. 


The nihilistic threat posed by the attitude of the black inner city inhabitant (and 
in reaUty any inner city minority) has been cited by Princeton University social 
scholar, Professor Cornel West, in his book, Race Matters, as: 

* * * Primarily a question of speaking to the profound sense of psycho- 
logical depression, personal worthlessness, and social despair so widespread 
in black America. 

To Professor West the nihilistic thinking in the inner city black community de- 

* * * The lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying and mean- 
ingless, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness. The frightening 
result is a numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposi- 
tion toward the world. Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a cold- 
hearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others, 
(pp. 14-15) 

Professor West offers a chilling observation on the effects of the nihilistic way of 
thinking on the black community: 

* * * It must be recognized that the nihilistic threat contributes to crimi- 
nal behavior. It is a threat that feeds on poverty and shattered cultural in- 
stitutions and grows more powerful as the armors to ward against it are 
weakened, (p. 16) 

The sense of a poverty ridden, meaningless existence devoid of hope and love (all 
sociological factors for the growth and development of the gang culture) coupled 
with the nihilistic threat of the inner city black attitude of "not giving a fuck about 
anything;" has engendered a value frequently expressed in "gangster" rap lyrics in 
terms of, "I'm a get mine — NOW! " The effort to achieve something of significance, 
something that will elevate them out of the depths of their existence, fuels the gang- 
ster reflex for immediate gratification. 

Rap magnate and impresario Luther Campbell, of the controversial group 2 Live 
Crew he has stated in the past. " * * * if people would just take these rap tapes 
and analyze them they'd find out what makes us tick.") touches on this issue in his 
autobiography. As nasty as they wanna be: 

These (inner city) kids don't put any more value on human life than soci- 
ety puts on theirs. These kids have got no hope of getting the fine life they 
see on T.V. except for taking it, in pieces, for themselves * * * if they want 
something you have, they shoot you and take it. (p. 9) 

Someone to whom a flippant remark uttered in passing was worth the 
price of a human life. (p. 16) 

The value of respect goes hand in hand with the issue of self-esteem in the life 
of a gang member. In the gang code of ethics the issue of respect is non-negotiable. 
"To get it you must give it, but any sign of disrespect is usually met with violence. 
A showing of disrespect to a gang member is considered a challenge, a threat, to 
everything he holds desir. Those things include his reputation, the honor of his gang, 
and his role within the gang. A showing of disrespect is a direct challenge to the 
gang member's claim of self-identity — of being somebody. 

In order for any constructive diedogue on the rising influence of the gang culture 
on American society to be effective, it is essential that the gang value system be 
understood. This vgdue system has spread beyond the confines of the gang environ- 
ment to impact the general population of teen culture in this country. 

Factors affecting the spread of the gang culture across America 

The serpentine spread of the gang culture across America can be attributed to 
several factors. Among them are (1) family considerations, (2) the drug trade, and 
(3) influence from the entertainment industry. 

(1) The gangster attitude is not one of genetic inheritance, but rather a learned 
behavior. Just as a child learns patterns of social behavior and attitude on the basis 
of the environment in which he (or she) is raised, the same can be said of the devel- 
opment of gang members. 

Gang members develop their knowledge and understanding of the culture through 
the mentors within the neighborhood clique. These mentors — O.G.'s (original gang- 
sters) or veteranos — school the neophyte gang member into the creed, the code of 
ethics, which governs the culture. The role of the gang mentor is to properly educate 
the young in gang values so as to insure that the knowledge transcends 
generational Umitations and continues the tradition. In order to fully comprehend 


the development of the gang psyche, the nature of the mentoring process must first 
be understood. 

Under the watchful and caring eye of the O.G. mentor, the novice gang member 
will be educated in the rudiments of the gang culture and lifestyle. That knowledge 
will be reinforced over and over again by fellow members of the clique, each, in turn, 
imparting his particular slant to the understanding of the lifestyle. Over time this 
brand of peer pressure leaves a heavy burden on the shoulders of the novice mem- 
ber — a burden that compels compliance. 

This indoctrination process leaves an indelible print on the mind of the young, im- 
pressionable gang member. The adoption of the mentoring process establishes the 
O.G. and older, more established peers as role models. This acceptance insures the 
negative characteristic traits and values which govern the gangster mentality will 
become the "norm" to the young member. 

Under this setting loving parents, concerned about the safety and welfare of their 
children, sent them out of their gang infested neighborhoods to live with relatives 
across the country in what were presumed to be "safe" communities. The effort 
proved futile because of the deep saturation of the gang value system in the minds 
of these children. As a result a malignant social cancer was simply excised from one 
region of the country only to metastasize in another. Thus the knowledge and un- 
derstanding of gangs was passed on to peers in the new communities thereby inflict- 
ing the gang culture on the local environment. 

In conjunction with this transference of knowledge was the ready acceptance of 
local youth to adopt the Blood/Crip persona as their own. This acceptance was 
based, in part, on the reputation for vicious ruthlessness amassed over the years 
by both factions. 

(2) Perhaps no single factor accounts for the transcontinental proliferation of the 
gang culture more than the rise in the drug trade, more specifically crack or rock 
cocaine. Among street gang criminal enterprises, the one long dominated by the 
Bloods and Crips of south central L.A. has been crack. Successful maneuvering in 
the crack trade has created entrepreneurs out of those individuals previously listed 
under the category of poor, impoverished, and underclass. The flaunting of their 
new found wealth, along with the increased levels of violence that routinely accom- 
panies drug transactions led to intense levels of scrutiny by law enforcement offi- 

In response to police crackdowns on their distribution of crack, Bloods and Crips 
fanned out across the country to establish new markets. With their opening of new 
distribution networks a new element of concern was created for law enforcement — 
the appearance of new Blood and Crip gangs. 

The creation of new gangs in areas which, in many cases, had never experienced 
a threat from gang activity led to a cycle of social depravity which adversely affected 
the personality and lifestyle of the impacted community. The end result was the in- 
culcation of the gang mentality on the minds of local youth, the establishment of 
gang rivalries (which in many cases was nothing more than a carry over of tradi- 
tional rivalries from the L.A. environment, except it now involved local youth far 
removed from the origin of the conflict), a dramatic increase in the level of violence, 
and a decline in the character of the community (as a result of graffiti, drug dealing, 
and gang violence resulting from that dealing and transplanted rivalries). 

The pressure the police brought to bear on this social disease forced the gang 
member turned drug entrepreneur to seek new markets outside of California. This 
effort led to the epidemic rise in crack use around the country and the appearance 
of gangs and gang violence in areas previously untouched by that subculture. 

(3) An element largely ignored when discussing the spread of the gang culture 
throughout the country has been the influence of the entertainment industry. 
Through its various mediums — most notably movies, "gangster" rap music, and 
more recently comic books — the culture of the inner city environment and the gang 
mentality and value system has infused itself on the youthful landscape of American 
society. The field of entertainment has made palatable the mentality, lifestyle, and 
value system of the inner city environment and its gang inspired subculture. It has 
allowed white, middle class, mainstream, suburban and rural youth — who are 
among the most avid fans of this genre of entertainment — to experience a vicarious 
dose of inner city/gangster reality with its element of excitement and sexuaUty 
fraught with danger. 

These forms of adolescent entertainment serve to educate its young and impres- 
sionable audience to the gang values of respect, being "down" for the gang, dem- 
onstration of manhood or "machismo." displays of the psychotic/psychopathic atti- 
tude of "wild craziness," and loyalty. The cultural attitude and ideology of the inner 
city is reflected in the sexually explicit and violently graphic references of misogyny 
(women are "bitches, whores, or sluts" who exist for the sexual gratification of men 


and are frequently assaulted or killed for failing to live up to the man's desire and 
need) and young inner city males who nonchalantly murder those who fall under 
their wrath. 

This form of entertainment makes sport of killing and the non-consensual sexual 
violation of women. It educates by celebrating the glorified image of the rebeUious 
outlaw in the 90's, personified in the form of the inner city gang member. It is a 
fantasy junket of racial and sexual victimization and/or domination, ego enhance- 
inent, greed, violent aggression, substance abuse, and anarchy. It reinforces the ni- 
hilistic vision of the young black inner city male. It portrays the mainstream per- 
spective on success and lifestyle "normalcy" as negative and inferior to the inner city 

The characters portraved and the artists who created them (especially in the 
"gangster" rap music industry) have become role models for the young to emulate. 
The success of these "anti-heroes" has fostered definitive influences in terms of lan- 
guage and fashion (clothing, jewelry, etc.). "Gangster chic" has thus become a popu- 
lar aspect of today's youth environment. 

A troubling aspect of the gang mentality and value system which should be of con- 
cern to the nation is the propensity to employ violence as THE means of conflict 
resolution. The violence generally involves the use of weapons with guns being the 
weapon of choice. 

As the gang mentality and value system further infuses itself in the minds of 
America's youth, the violence level will increase, and with this increase the desire 
to "pick up the gun" will become greater. This desire should be well understood by 
all concerned about the increasing influence and fusion of the gang culture on popu- 
lar youth culture. 

The fear factor which accompanies gang involved acts of directed community ter- 
rorism has prompted a seemingly endless stream of reactionary acts of violence. 
Most notable among these has been the willingness of students to carry guns on 
school premises, supposedly for protection against bullying gang members. In many 
cases guns are displayed in the midst of school social life with the stated intent to 
use them — if necessary. 

In the youth culture of the 90's it is about having a gun, using a gun. It is not 
about setthng disputes with fists. Guns are the great equalizer. If the youthful gang 
meinber has a gun and is eager to develop or enhance a reputation he will willingly 
use it against those who would challenge him. To the gang member or those victim- 
ized by gangs, having a gun is equated with a sense of excitement, power, safety, 
a means of contact resolution, a means of salvaging one's pride, and a means of 
achieving a sense of honor, respect, and self-esteem. 

This "cult of the gun" is fueled by the impact of the popularity of "gangster" rap 
music which promotes this ideal among the nation's youth. A small sampling of the 
explosion of this ideal reflected in music reveals the following: 

1. Freedom got an A-K 

An A-K talks and bullshit runs 

I wish I had time to count all my guns 

'Cause a nigga is runnin' out of funds 

But H. Rap said freedom got a strap 

I wish I was in dixie A-K, A-K 

And shit wouldn't a been bad in the 60's 

No way, no way * * * 

I'll share 17 times 

'Cause this week we don't turn the other cheek 

Do that shit and get strolled on 

Non-violence gotta hold on, plus we gotta roll on 

The mayor and the whole fuckin' city * * * 

So get the fuck out the way when I spray 

Hey, freedom got an A-K 

2. Pass the gat 

Pass me the gat 

I gotta fight back 

I ain't rollin' over on my motherfucking back, 

Pass me the gat 

I gotta stay strapped 

I ain't rollin over on my motherfucking back 

3. Bonnie & Clyde Theme 

It's a man's world 


But check the girl 

With a MAC- 11, 187 * * * 

I'm the type of girl that's down for my nigga 

I'll lie for my nigga, peel a cap for my nigga * * * 

What they don't know won't hurt 

They searchin' on him I got the gat in my skirt * * * 

Let him think he's gettiir over while I gank him for his ^ 

Robbin', stealin', kiUin' at will * * * 

Hittin' with the wicked shit 

I like to dick a chick, but now I'm robbin' quick and split * * * 

4. .380 on that ass 

* * * I'm sick as fuck I'll do a drive-by in a black hearse 
And leave you in the street for homicide up to .380 bursts 
187 on an undercover p-i-g 

They better duck when they see the chrome .380 * * * 

The bullet fucked ya when i bucked ya it was instant death * * * 

.380 on that ass, bitch 

Blast the .380 

Niggas look crazy * * * 

So now I gotta smile 

Then pow-pow-pow-pow-pow 

Then buck with that .380 till the motherfucker drop * * * 

I'm ready to kill a nigga quicker ready to kill a nigga 

187 ways to heaven when I drill a nigga * * * 

Your ass is drippin' 'cause that nina gave that ass a whippin' * * * 

I'll grab your heart and squeeze the motherfucker till it burst 

Ana tie your corpse to the bumper of my homie's hearse 

I pack a 9(mm) but, yo, i'm down to pack a 3-8-0 

And pump some motherfuckin' slugs up in your anus hole 

The cartel's full of killers 

.380 on that asshole, nigga 

5. Reign of the TEC(9) 

It's the hard little pistol packin' punk dope smuggler 

Lethal when I kill I go straight for the jugular + * * 

Shit gets out of hand I gotta TEC in the trunk * * * 

Now I'm on a rampage prepare for the slaughter 

Lyrical monster bustin' nuts in your daughter * * * 

Bullet proof, ready for action, no frontin' 

Fully loaded TEC, chump, ready to go huntin' * * * 

Die, don't give me no hassle 

I'll snatch up your bitch take her to white castle 

Then crack her asshole * * * 

Carjackin' punks, pullin' 'em out the pathfinders * * * 

Come on bro' don't give me that shit 

Blast my 9 to your spine take your money then split * * * 

I'll shoot you with no problems, I'm use to shootin' cops * * * 

I'll let you go this time but next time you pop that shit your ass gotta drop 

* * * 

It's the gun slingin' lunatics demons out of hell * * * 
Low key, deadly takin' out all suckers 
Before you even step and try to play me son 
Bring heavy ammunition so you don't have to run 
Take heed this ain't somethin' you should laugh to 
Yo, I'll shoot your moms if I have to * * * 

6. Head or gut 

Head or gut, where you want it, head or gut, pop-pop 

I asked you how you want it, where you want it, head or gut 

As I cold rip shit, niggas wanna talk shit 

But it's a clip that goes up in the 9, A double 'M', bitch 

So if you readly wanna throw, nigga * * * 

WelL I gotta new tool to go boom-boom, now you're outta here 

I may be dumb, but I'm quick to smoke a nigga * * * 

I'll rob your ass and then I'll ask you head or gut * * * 

7. Dumpin' 'em in ditches 

Rat to the motherfuckin' tat is how I stalk this * * * 


I do a 187 with this motherfuckin' glock 

Shot you in the body 

Had to break the gat off in his ass at the party, nigga 

Crazy as fuck I thought you knew me 

Keep the clip of bullets up in the motherfuckin' Uzi, bitch 

A O.G. nigga so I gotta g-o, and creep slow 

And get this nigga while he's steppin' out his car door 

Bust, bang, I let my nuts hang 

Shoot out my mustang 

And let this motherfuckin' Gat sing * * * 

8. A nigga wit a gun 

See I never take a step on the compton block 

Or L.A. without the A-K ready to pop * * * 

'Cause for you to survive a nigga gotta be a gangster * * * 

Four-four, trey-eight, or AK-47 

'Cause slowly but surely send you on the stairway to heaven 

Just put my finger on the trigga and pull back 

And lay a punk motherfucker flat * ♦ * 

I breaks 'em off but I ain't speakin' about between the thighs 

I'm talkin' about cockin' a guage in between your eyes 

And make you drop to your knees 'cause you realize 

That a Gat 11 make any nigga civilized * * * 

And if motherfuckers come at me wrong 

I'll straight put my 44 desert eagle to his motherfuckin' dome 

And show him why they call me the notorious one 

The name is Dre Eastwood when I'm packin' a gun 

Gangster rap: to defend or condemn ? 

The aspects of the gang culture discussed throughout this testimony are all incor- 
porated in the lyrics of "gangster" rap music. The correlation between the gang cul- 
ture and its reflection in the music is not accidental. Many of the more prominent 
"gangster" rappers currently in vogue were (some would argue they still are) active 
participants in the gang lifestyle. Others were passive in their involvement — passive 
in the sense that thev grew up amid the environment of the gang culture and were 
obviously influenced by that experience, but were otherwise not involved in the life- 

As a music phenomenon, the seeds of which were planted in the mid-80's, blos- 
somed towards the end of the decade, and reached fuU maturity in the 90's; "gang- 
ster" rap is central to a powerful, albeit unorganized, cultural movement. That 
movement — "RAPITIVISM" — is a form of social activism which uses rap music as 
a tool to bring about change in the system. The raptivist nature of "gangster" rap 
is indicative of a heightened social consciousness in the inner city black community, 
a consciousness based on an Afrocentric perspective on Ufe coupled with a sense of 
community empowerment. In this vein "gangster" rap is nothing more than a tool 
to reach the masses. It arouses the raging anger in the inner city community, while 
educating those outside of the community as to the social conditions which created 
that rage. 

"Gangster" rappers view themselves as "reporters from the street." To their way 
of thinking their lyrics paint a vivid picture of the day-to-day reahty of their social 
existence. That portrayal begs an answer to the eternal question, "\\Tiich came first, 
the chicken or the egg? " 

Did the existence of inner city violence and sexuaUty create "gangster" rap; or 
does gangster" rap merely reflect inner city violence and sexuality? The social condi- 
tions of that environment existed long before anyone ever conceived of an "art" form 
known as "gangster" rap music. The social conditions reflected in "gangster" rap 
music may, indeed, be based on the circumstances of the day-to-day existence of the 
rappers themselves; but not the greater society-at-large. Though it does not reflect 
the general makeup of mainstream society, the popularity of the music, its avid ac- 
ceptance on the part of white middle class — mainstream — youth, will allow the mes- 
sage to be received by them and, in turn, reinforce the stereotype and image of the 
inner city cultural environment. Over time the continued acceptance and reinforce- 
ment of the message will take root and lead to the creation of the attitude and envi- 
ronment conveyed in the lyrics. The attitude and environment then lead to the cre- 
ation of more songs which, in turn, leads to the reinforcement of the attitude and 
environment, ad infinitum, until something or someone intervenes to break the 
cycle. An argument can be made that the drug culture of the 60's took shape in this 
fashion by music reflecting the youthful countercultural lifestyle of Haight Ashbury, 


et al., which was then reinforced by that lifestyle and subsequently transmitted 
throughout the country via the music. In essence this is the basis for some of the 
development of the gang culture in metropolitan Salt Lake City and other 
"nonstereotypical" communities experiencing a gang problem. 

The rappers, through the hard hitting, gut stabbing, caustic delivery of their mes- 
sage, have forced an otherwise seemingly unconcerned American public to stand up 
and take notice of the world and social forces which nurtured them. Their music, 
in many ways reflects that nurturing. It is the basic nature of those social forces 
that should force all concerned and frightened Americans to pause and reflect on 
what we, as a nation, have brought upon ourselves. 

Are the young people creating this music guilty of promoting violence, racism, 
sexism, misogyny, and xenophobic intolerance? It could easily be ar^ed that yes 
they are. But it could equally be argued that they are not promoting it, but merely 
as products of such a world, reflecting it. As "creative artists," these rappers are 
merely doing what "creative artists" in other genres have done — writing about that 
which they know. 

Any creative writing class in any college or university in America will teach that 
an artist should draw upon their personal knowledge and experiences in the process 
of tapping their creative juices. Former Los Angeles Police Officer turned best sell- 
ing author Joseph Wambaugh drew upon his knowledge of the law enforcement pro- 
fession to create a hodgepodge of wacky, confused, and oftentimes troubled char- 
acters to achieve his version of the American Dream. His success led him from the 
position of police sergeant to best selling author to screenplay writer to television 

"Gangster" rappers, on the other hand, draw on the frightening, pragmatic vio- 
lence and sexuality of their world to weave their tales of "life in the hood." They 
have escaped the physical confines of that world to achieve their version of the 
American Dream. Their success has led them from the position of top selling record- 
ing artists to record producers to owners of their own recording labels. At each step 
along the way they have not only elevated their social status in the high stakes 
world of the recording industry, but have also assumed loftier heights as role models 
to the youth of America. 

As role models the "gangster" rappers are idolized by their more youthful listeners 
(some "gangster" rappers have described their listening audience as being between 
the ages of 8-28) and as such are in the position of influencing behavior. If in their 
position as idols and role models to young impressionable minds they repeatedly in- 
ject anti-social, racially motivated, sexually explicit messages to their listeners in 
the form of, "Fuck the police," "You can't fuck with a nigga," or "Bitches ain't shit 
but tramps and tricks" (all lines from "gangster" rap songs), is it unreasonable to 
assume the seeds they plant will not eventually take root? If the mind-set, as a re- 
sult of environmental stimuli (such as the graphic depiction of inner city living por- 
trayed in "gangster" rap Ijoics), is already fixed on a certain attitude or demeanor, 
could it not be reinforced by a social consciousness rooted in the music preferred 
by a large segment of youthful society? Is it unreasonable to think that "gangster" 
rap can be used to sell a particular ideology? 

Major advertising firms spend countless millions of dollars developing ad cam- 
paigns targeting particular products. Among their strategies are catchy phrases 
with musical accompaniment, and the use of high profile celebrities (actors, athletes, 
& recording artists) — role models — as spokespersons. These celebrity endorsers are 
paid multi-millions of dollars in the belief that their endorsement of a product will 
boost sales. If top advertising firms spend such quantities of money on the premise 
that celebrity endorsement will increase the acceptability of a product by consumers, 
can the same not be expected of "gangster" rap endorsement of the product of 
human anger, misery, frustration, and despair? 

As concerned citizens we want to point the finger of blame at the "gangster" rap 
community and, in particular, the rappers themselves, for creating a society that 
has become ruled by the gun. We want to blame the "gangster" rappers for the ter- 
ror that fills the eyes of a child at the sound of loud report. We want to blame the 
"gangster" rappers for all the death and destruction, pain and anguish which has 
come to fill our lives and dominates how we relate to our environment. We yell for 
"banning," and "censoring," and even call for "stomp-ins" (the organized demonstra- 
tion against "gangster" rap music by stomping— destroying — CD's and cassette 
tapes). Some naysayers against the music who have maintained silence on the sub- 
ject because it was not the "politically correct" thing to do, have suddenly found 
their voices now that the subject is in the public eye and call for the "boycott" of 
radio stations and businesses supporting the "gangster" rap message. 

As a career law enforcement officer I am deeply angered by the anti-cop themes 
in "gangster" rap music. As a black American of African descent, none of the women 


over the course of my life who nurtured me and made me into the person that I 
am today were "bitches, whores, or sluts." I, Uke a lot of my generation, was raised 
to reject anv use of the hated pejorative "nigger" being used in reference to me as 
a person. Black America, as a proud race of people, spent, literally, centuries going 
from being nigger to colored to Negro to black to African-American; only to be re- 
duced to being a "nigger" again in the scope of a single generation, not as a result 
of white racism, but through the force of our own people as a result of "gangster" 
rap music. 

Yes, I am angered and concerned by this music but I have also learned to under- 
stand the basic nature behind the rage which fuels the lyrical creativity of the rap- 
pers. I have experienced the hurt and pain of racism that they describe in their 
music (though I believe that a vast majority of their message in this regard and in 
regards to sexuality issues is exaggerated) and can relate to what they are saying. 
I do not necessarily like the manner in which they are expressing their hurt and 
pain, but I do understand why they say it and the manner in which it is said. 

Should we as a society censor or ban "gangster" rap music because of the content 
and delivery of its message? This music was started by inner city black kids for 
inner city black kids. It began as an underground music and was never intended 
to crossover to the mainstream. When the music was confined to the inner cities, 
polluting, as it were, the minds of those children caught up in a social despair and 
depravity not of their making, where were the naysayers to speak out against its 
harmful effects? 

To the "gangster" rap community this is just another example of overt white 
mainstream racism. When the music was confined to the inner cities no one raised 
a hue and cry over its negative impact to the children in those communities. It has 
only been since the music has reached a wider listening audience (i.e.; white, middle 
class, mainstream, suburbian American youth) that calls for banning and/or censor- 
ing it have wrung out. It is ironic that so-called national spokespersons for Black 
America are leading the charge in this direction. 

The "gangster" rap community feels that they are being singled out for this dis- 
criminatory action because they are black (regardless of the caustic and inflam- 
matory tone of their language). They ask why no attempts have ever been made to 
ban and/or censor other forms of inflammatory, though popular, music? Take, for ex- 
ample, country music. In a February, 1994 airticle in Request Magazine (a music in- 
dustry trade publication) titled, "Gangsta Country;" the author cites the following 
examples of country lyrics with a violent imagery similar to that of "gangster" rap 
and offers the premise that country star Johnny Cash might be the lyrical God- 
father to current "gangster" rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg: 

Early one morning whUe i'm makin' the rounds 

I took a shot of cocaine and shot my woman down 

I went right home and I went to bed 

I stuck a lovin'.44 under my head * * * 

The judge he smiled as he picked up his pen 

99 years in the folsom pen 

99 years underneath I cried 

I can't forgetthe day I shot that bad bitch down 

(196&— "Cocaine Blues" by Johnny Cash) 

And as she stood there at all dressed in her gown of white 

They kissed each other and they turned around and they saw me standing 

in the aisle 

Well I did not say much 

I just stood there watching as that .45 told them goodbye 

(1987— "L. A. County" by Lyle Lovett) 

You better close your face and stay outta my way if you don't 

Want to go to fist city 

You better detour around my town 'cause I'll grab you by the hair of the 

head and I'll lift you off the ground 

You better layoff my man if you don't wan't to go to fist city 

(1968— "Fist City" by Loretta Lynn) 

So in the final analysis should we as a nation be concerned about "gangster" rap 
music? Should we be angered bv the effect it may be having on a generation of 
American youth — lost and abandoned by a system that has, in many respects, ig- 
nored them and their plight? Should we vent our wrath at the young men and 
women who are using this vehicle as a means to escape the frustrated sense of hope- 


lessness of their social condition (though they have used the context of that condi- 
tion to upgrade their quality of life)? 

I feel that the concern is warranted, but should be properly channeled. Rap music 
is a powerful force in the America of the 90's. Just as we, as a nation, recently elect- 
ed the first member of the Baby Boom generation to the office of President. It is 
not too far in the distant future that members of the Hip-Hop (rap) Nation will be 
eligible for high elective office. We must try to reign in the forces of the rap commu- 
nity, rather than keep them at arms length. We must embrace these young artists 
by bringing them into the fold of mainstream America. We must learn to use the 
power of their voices in a way that can enhance and improve on the quality of life 
ror all, but especially for those forced to exist in the depressed squalor of the inner 
cities. We must reach out to insure them their franchisement, their place, in Amer- 
ican society. We must meet on common ground, merging their financial means with 
the power of government support, to reinvest in the future of our children. 

Our young people feel lost and abandoned by a system, they feel, does not care 
about them and their needs. They are hurting — physically, but more important, 
emotionally. They have become Jaded by the strain of growing up in the depression 
of the inner city environment. They are frightened, frustrated, and angry; but have 
had a difficult time finding their voice to put a name to their feeling of hopelessness. 
Rap music, and especially "gangster" rap music has given them that voice and al- 
lowed them to name that which is causing their pain. 

If we, as a nation, must vent anger at the message and tone of "gangster" rap 
music, let it not be directed at the artists. In this I am somewhat unique among 
my law enforcement colleagues in that I don't call for the heads of the rappers on 
a silver platter because of their anti-cop themes. Our anger, if it must be shown, 
should be directed at the executives of the music industry, those powerful few who 
made it feasible for the violent, racist, sexist imagery of "gangster" rap to become 
the veritable gold mine that is has. Without their financial support along the way 
there might not have been a Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, N.W.A., Ice Cube, 
Eazy-E, et al. 


As the gang culture becomes more rooted in the fabric of society we must come 
together in our philosophy on how to best address the issue. In that vein I feel it 
would be appropriate for the federal government to take a more hands on involve- 
ment in dealing with the gang issue. As suggested by Sgt. Wes McBride of the Los 
Angeles County Sheriff's Department, a nationally reknowned authority on the gang 
culture with over 20 years experience in the arena and the co-author of a widely 
used text, Understanding Street Gangs, the federal government should explore the 
creation of a "National Gang Committee." This committee would bring together se- 
lect gang officers from throughout the nation on an annual or semi-annual basis to 
discuss gang issues, plot strategy, exchange information on new trends of develop- 
ment in the gang environment, et al. Such a committee could develop a "National 
Gang Training Program" (funded by the federal government) which would establish 
a national curriculum of basic and advanced training on the criminology, methodol- 
ogy, and sociology of the gang cultural environment. In this way gang investigators 
throughout the nation will all be working from the same page, so to speak. 

Among federal agencies the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, 
& Firearms has taken a lead role in working with local and state officials on the 
gang issue. Though much maligned and inaccurately portrayed in the media re- 
cently, the A.T.F., as a collective group of professional law enforcement officials and 
{)erhaps more than another federal law enforcement agency, has the support of their 
ocal and state counterparts. Since 1992 the A.T.F. has co-sponsored National Gang 
Conferences on both coasts that has brought together gang investigators and other 
professionals in a convivial atmosphere of learning and fellowship. 

In the area of training the federal government should continue their support of 
the RISS (Regional Information Sharing Systems) Programs. One such program, 
MAGLOCLEN (Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement 
Network), has co-sponsored (with A.T.F.) the National Gang Conference and other 
such training for the eastern law enforcement establishment. The training programs 
put on by MAGLOCLEN are unparalled in the quality of their professionalism. 

The federal Weed & Seed program administered under the auspices of the Depart- 
ment of Justice should continue with one minor improvement. "The funding should 
be allocated to select areas on a need basis rather than on the political climate of 
the impacted neighborhood. A particular case comes to mind in the Salt Lake City 
metropolitan area in which two equally needy areas were considered to receive 
Weed & Seed money and one area was tihe sole recipient. The criteria from all indi- 


cations, was based on the fact that the area which was denied consisted primarily 
of a low income transient population while the recipient area consisted of a more 
stable group of home owning citizens. The federal government should also consider 
some form of subsidy for proven intervention & prevention programs which are 
making a difference in the lives of troubled youth. The Neighborhood Housing Serv- 
ices in Salt Lake City and the California Police Activities League, based in Oakland, 
are two good examples of programs making a difference. 

Neighborhood Housing Services takes troubled youth and puts them in a construc- 
tion program renovating and, in some cases, building houses. They work under the 
guidance of trained professionals in the construction industry and are paid a salary 
just above the minimum wage standard. These young people are required to main- 
tain a 'C average in school and stay out of trouble with the law in order to be par- 
ticipants in the program. Over time, some will achieve a level of advancement, such 
as Peer Leader. In this way they learn responsibihty and sociahzation skills. If they 
successfully complete the program (6 months in length) and reach the Peer Leader 
level they are placed in internship programs with businesses and organizations 
throughout the area. 

The California Police Activities League (Cal Pal) is designed to help bridge the 
gap between police officers and the community they serve. To quote from their 
Handbook, " * * * it is a youth crime prevention program that relies on educational, 
athletic, and other recreational activities to cement a bond between police officers 
and the youth." Cal Pal is based on the conviction that young persons — if they are 
reached early enough — can develop strong, positive attitudes towards police officers 
in their journey through Hfe toward the goal of maturity and good citizenship. It 
promotes trust and understanding between youth and police officers. 

All of these areas cited show the national flavor of the law enforcement/commu- 
nity bonding necessary to impact the rising tide in gangs and gang violence. The 
individuals involved in programs such as these are the true heroes in the battle to 
reclaim our pride and conviction in the belief that America is truly a land of oppor- 
tunity and vision. We must take steps — NOW — to impart that vision to our youth 
if we are to rise from the abyss brought on by youth violence. 

Thank you very much. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you, Sergeant Stallworth. 
Mr. James, welcome, and we look forward to your testimony as 


Mr. D. James. Thank you, Senator Moseley-Braun, Senator 
Cohen, and the Senate Juvenile Justice Subcommittee. By way of 
introduction, my name is Darryl James. I am the founder, editor- 
in-chief and currently one of the owners of Rap Sheet, a monthly 
newspaper dedicated to the art form and its artists. 

Rap music is being convicted for the alleged crimes of a handful 
of rap artists who are using what is perhaps the only vehicle that 
they possess to express frustration about their environment. So be- 
fore I deliver what I believe to be adequate defense of an art form 
and the people for which it speaks, I must urge all involved to ex- 
amine the entire spectrum of this problem by viewing rap music in 
an historical perspective. 

Art, especially musical art, has always been an expression of the 
frustrations of a people, particularly African Americans in this Na- 
tion. That was manifest in the gospel that the slaves used which 
evolved into jazz, rock and roll, soul and R&B. Rap music, which 
became the next wave of creativity and expression, was and still 
is a voice of activism found in acts like Public Enemy, X-Clan, 
Boogie Down Production, Queen Latifah and Paris. These acts 
make and made young urban America feel good by mirroring the 
lives that they led and providing the words that they were too 
afraid to speak. A community long ignored and unheard had finally 
found a voice. 


The entire urban youth actions of the Reagan administration, 
coupled with the nonaction of self-appointed black leaders, left 
urban teens feeling disenfranchised with little hope invested in tra- 
ditional ways and means of succeeding. The actions of other leaders 
taken without full knowledge of the actual problems often had det- 
rimental effects. 

Rap music and the hip-hop culture sprung from a portion of the 
population that had been left out of the American dream. So it is 
disheartening but not surprising to watch America's media, politi- 
cal leaders and average citizens blame the musical expression of a 
generation of urban youth for the unraveling of our social fabric. 

It is appalling to watch a band of so-called black leaders abandon 
their duties by focusing on the effect and not the cause of our con- 
dition. At the end of the civil rights struggle of the 1960's, black 
leaders began to focus on affirmative action and equal opportunity 
emplo3rment, ignoring the lack of real job opportunities for the poor 
and the paucity of training programs for urban youth. Since the 
end of that era of civil struggle, mainstream America has begun to 
target poor people of color as a strain on an economically drained 
Nation, a Nation which continued to spend enormous amounts of 
money on the building of arms instead of on the building of com- 
munities and the improvement of education. 

The Reagan administration, assisted by the ill focus of misguided 
community leaders, began to dismantle Government programs that 
were designed to bring poor people out of crisis. Left with no social 
programs, questionable leadership and a lack of role models outside 
of entertainment or sports figures, urban youngsters began to cre- 
ate their own sub-cultures in the form of gangs, drug dealers and 
rap music as a means of gaining respect and financial status. 

These are the problems of African Americans and of this Nation. 
These are the problems that need to be addressed by the throngs 
of patriots who would rather stick their heads in the sand by turn- 
ing off the voices of expression than step up and take a closer look 
at what the roots of these problems really are. Perhaps people are 
afraid to realize that these are the voices that outline the crimes 
committed by this Nation against poor people of color and the sins 
of disinterest and disdain shown by our so-called leaders. 

But I would be remiss if I defended the art form without giving 
concrete solutions to a very real and very difficult problem. Now, 
first, understanding that the majority of the target rap artists are 
themselves from problem environments, we must as a society take 
more concern with child care, education, after-school community ac- 
tivities and jobs. Instead of keeping people from speaking on issues, 
we must go into the community to remove the problems so that 
they have nothing to talk about. 

Second, in alignment with the freedoms guaranteed by this coun- 
try's Constitution, we must urge those groups who are offended by 
rap music to discontinue the purchase of what they believe to be 
offensive products. More importantly, those groups must undertake 
missions of education. Through enlightenment, ignorance and 
harshness will be crushed. In short, my mother used to say if they 
knew better, they would do better. 

Third, any solution aimed at the reshaping of the hip-hop com- 
munity must come from within, or at the very least be in tandem 


with that community. Frustrated men and women like Reverend 
Jesse Jackson and Dr. C. Delores Tucker who misrepresent them- 
selves as representatives of the masses only serve to fan the flames 
of controversy. The final result is nothing more than waves of 
media exposure, with no meaningful steps toward understanding 
and compassion. 

Finally, I too am concerned about the misogynistic and violent 
lyrics contained in modern music, but I also realize that those 
themes are reality-based and they will not go away as long as we 
as a Nation allow a portion of our citizens to wallow in hopeless 
destitution, ignoring generations of neglect and abuse. I am espe- 
cially concerned about the effect of these lyrics on this Nation's 
youth of color, but I am, in fact, alarmed that some of our Nation's 
leaders would shun them, tossing them away and holding them re- 
sponsible for their own condition. 

I stand prepared to roll up my sleeves and dedicate my resources 
to any real solution, but I fear that I stand with a precious few as 
too many of us become confused and focus on the S3miptoms and 
not the illnesses. The answer will not come from the stifling of 
voices of a few vocal musicians, but from viewing these voices as 
pleas for help, listening to those voices and taking action. The an- 
swer will not come easily, nor will it be agreed upon by all, but it 
must include all involved in order to be implemented with any 
measure of success. 

Thank you. [Applause.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you, Mr. James. 

Senator Cohen. Madam Chairman, we have a large panel and 
we are running way behind, and I am reluctant to ask questions 
because we have such a talented panel. 

I don't think any white person can ever know the depth of pain 
that has been inflicted upon African Americans in this country. No 
one that I am aware of can ever know that. The testimony reflects 
a diversity of opinion. This notion that all people of African Amer- 
ican descent must think alike and they must have one opinion 
about where the civil rights movement is going, has gone, should 
go, is simply not realistic. It is not what is happening in society. 

I listened today and I heard Congresswoman Waters quote some 
poetic words. They weren't the words that are on these charts here. 
The words are obviously supposed to be reflecting the pain and the 
anguish and the frustration that you, Mr. James, talked about, 
and, Professor Dyson, where you came from. 

But I thought about writers like Richard Wright and Gordon 
Parks, Sr., and James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, and the 
songs of Billie Holiday and the music of Miles Davis and the words 
of Martin Luther King, Jr. I don't know any of them who didn't ex- 
press a sense of rage and frustration at the condition that was im- 
posed upon them, but not one of them ever advocated the kind of 
degradation that I see in those charts. 

Professor Dyson, I am reluctant to encourage you because we 
could go on for a long time and I would like very much to continue 
to speak with you. When you talk about the women during civil 
rights movement who were degraded by being reduced to coffee-get- 
ters or pencil sharpeners, that may, in fact, have been the case. 
But it is a long way from pencil sharpeners to that chart over there 


and the picture on that particular album. That has, I think, 
reached a new level of degradation. 

I can't read what the words are. The lyrics, unfortunately, 
Madam Chairwoman, are in very small print. They are in such 
small print because we don't want the audience who is watching 
on television to see these words. We are afraid that perhaps they 
might offend our sensibilities, but, in fact, those words are going 
into the ears of all of our young people. 

Patrick Mojoiihan has written about defining deviancy down. We 
have reached a level in our society of accepting events that 20, 30, 
40 years ago would have shocked us. He cites the St. Valentine's 
Day massacre. I think three or four people were murdered, perhaps 
more, and it made headlines; it is in all the history books. We see 
that every day in the Washington Post and we think nothing of it. 

So we have allowed what used to be deviant conduct to be re- 
duced down to a level now where our sensibilities no longer are as 
offended by what we are seeing in the papers every day. It seems 
to me we are also, in the process, defining down our sense of ex- 
pressions of rage. The rage has been there, as you pointed out, 
from the days of slavery to present, and it has been expressed 
through all of the artists I have mentioned over the years. Now 
those feelings are being expressed in some cases in a way that not 
simply reflects the frustration and the rage, but actually encour- 
ages action, and that, I think, is a difference in a degree which we 
haven't seen before. 

Now, we can point to the presence of drugs and guns as added 
elements, but there is something that is different today than at any 
time before because now it is not simply singing and talking about 
a condition, but it is actually advocating action, action which Dr. 
Phillips would describe as pathological. I am not sure how you 
would characterize it, but this is what we are trying to come to 
grips with, not that we don't recognize what has taken place and 
what continues, Mr. James, to take place today. There is no deny- 
ing that, and we have an obligation to try to remove those things 
which have resulted in the condition that we see today, day after 
day. We have that obligation; all of us have that obligation. 

The question that I have as someone sitting here is what do we 
do in terms of the young children coming up. Should we allow them 
to continue to hear language on their disc players, that we are 
afraid to even repeat here today in open session? 

Dr. Phillips. Senator, we prevent children from smoking, we 
prevent children from drinking. You asked the question, what 
should we do. We have to treat it the same way. 

Senator Cohen. It was a rhetorical question because I know the 
two of you are going to come back with 

Dr. Phillips. But the answer should not and cannot be rhetori- 
cal, and that is the point. 

Mr. Dyson. Well, I think that the honorable Senator has 

Senator COHEN. It was only rhetorical because I know the two 
of you are going to give me some very substantive answers. 

Mr. Dyson. Well, I am going to keep mine relatively short. I 
think that when you name people like Billie Holiday and James 
Baldwin and Richard Wright, and so on — or we can take, as Dr. 


Tucker earlier talked about, the words from the Whitney Houston 
song, first sung, of course, by George Benson in the movie "The 
Greatest" about another young black man who was quite controver- 
sial, namely Muhammad Ali, about whom a whole range of things 
were said because his style was different. 

I think we have to deal here on several different levels. There is 
no denying — and as I indicated earlier, as a Baptist preacher who 
has pastored three churches — and I was a teen father; I have a 16- 
year-old son who is here today — there is no questioning the fact 
that we ought to be disturbed by a whole range of things that we 
see presented to us, and one of them happens to be in the form of 
gangster rap lyrics that talk about women as bitches and hoes or 
sleazes and sluts or, as I said, earlier about the fag and dike, 
again, trying to talk about the homophobia. 

There is no question that these things are deleterious, that they 
are negative, but the reason I, first of all, avoid using the word 
"pathological" is because the honorable Senator Moynihan, to 
whom you made earlier reference, must bear some responsibility, 
quite frankly, for the demonization of not simply black children, 
but black women. He warned in that infamous 1965 report on the 
black family about the coming matriarchy and the way in which 
the disproportionate power that accrued to black women would 
somehow have a negative effect on black families precisely because 
you would have single female-headed household families that were 
run by black women. 

Now, we see the same thing not simply in the Moynihan report; 
we see it in "Boyz 'N the Hood," the film by John Singleton. So I 
am not trying to avoid hard questions about black youth culture be- 
cause Singleton himself pointed the finger ultimately to black 
women because black women raising black children wouldn't do 
good enough; we need to have the presence of black men. 

As a black father, I certainly want to be in on the raising of my 
child, but black women have done a tremendous job of raising black 
families. So the point is we have here an ironic collusion between 
white cultural sensibilities that are often conservative and black 
cultural ones that are quite often conservative as well. 

There are two things I would say in response to you. First of all, 
vulgarity, the thing that we are talking about here, is a staple, 
whether we acknowledge it or not, of African American oral tradi- 
tions, as well as American oral traditions, as well as Western cul- 
tural oral traditions. The technology allows a greater access to the 
very lyrics that in previous generations were relatively contained 
within local communities. 

I mentioned "Stagger Lee." If you read the book by Lawrence Le- 
vine. Black Culture and Black Consciousness, or read Professor Pa- 
tricia Turner's book, / Heard It Through the Grapevine, about the 
circulation of rumor in black culture, these and other books talk 
about the way in which there is a powerful time-honored tradition 
within African American culture where the circulation of some 
things that would be unsavory, that certainly would offend the nor- 
mal ear, and that in the language of our own society become devi- 
ant — all I am warning against here is that how we construct devi- 
ance must be carefully done. 


In general, black male sexual behavior over the last 30 and 40 
years has itself been constructed automatically as deviant. How 
can we live in a culture — and I really will be quiet — how can we 
live in a culture where we have constructed black males as walking 
phalluses, as James Baldwin, to whom you had reference, called 
them in his notes to Native Son? He said black men are construed 
as walking phalluses, and the demonization of black men as the 
imager bearers, along with black women as welfare queens, I am 
suggesting, creates an unfair, unjust examination of the very cul- 
ture that we aim to help. 

I certainly want to control and condemn misogyny and sexism 
and homophobia and classism and consumerism, and so on, but I 
don't think by pointing to gangster rap lyrics we can really elimi- 
nate that. Not only is it pointing at a symptom, it doesn't deal with 
the underlining virus that continues to cause the expression of 
these gangster rap lyrics. 

So as Senator Moseley-Braun rightly said, however, simply be- 
cause we can't deal with the disease doesn't mean we mustn't treat 
the symptoms. But the people who bear the symptoms are them- 
selves so deeply ingrained in the forces of post-industrial collapse, 
of economic emiseration, and finally of the sexism that we want to 
point to, that I think it does no good merely to isolate them without 
examining these other forces as well, and the best of our tradition 
has always acknowledged that as well. 

Senator COHEN. Dr. Phillips, did you want to respond? 

Dr. Phillips. I have to respond. This is nonsense. Slavery did not 
do it to us. We were ripped from our native continent, locked in the 
bowels of what have been described as floating shit houses. We 
were brought to this country and put on a slave block and sold. We 
never did that [indicating]. Martin Luther King and every civil 
rights leader that we pay homage to this month never did that. 

My honorable and distinguished colleague from Princeton 

Mr. Dyson. Brown. You want to get the right school. 

Dr. Phillips. You went to undergrad at Princeton, I understood, 
and then to Brown. 

Mr. Dyson. Yes. 

Dr. Phillips. Let me remind you from your sister institutions at 
Yale and Harvard that it is not dissent; it is denigration. We are 
not talking about freedom of expression. We are talking about the 
protection of our children from pathology. This is pathology. This 
is a cause-and-effect relationship between what we hear, what we 
see, and how people act violently in the streets. 

We cannot intellectualize this away. We cannot cast this in the 
mode of an art form. We have to recognize it for what it is. It is 
yet another example of the way in which we are institutionally and 
racistly [sic] turned inward against ourselves. We are doing today 
what centuries of oppression could not do to us. 

Mr. D. James. Senator, may I respond? I will be brief. When we 
walk about Dr. Martin Luther King and when we talk about Rich- 
ard Wright and when we talk about James Baldwin, we are talking 
about highly trained and educated men. Snoop Doggy Dog is not 
a highly trained and educated man. We are also talking about a 
situation where Snoop Dog did not have the benefits of the edu- 
cation that I did V2 of a generation before he did. 


We are talking about a generation of men and women who are 
exposed to some things that I believe that most of us who are over 
30 do not understand because we are so far removed that we are 
no longer exposed. I believe that the focus here is backwards. 
Qwame Ture said, "Capitalism will come to confuse us, causing us 
to concentrate on the form and so miss the essence." We are con- 
centrating on the result of generations of neglect of our people, but 
not only our people, but this country. We are not really getting to 
the root of the problem as long as we are focusing on entertain- 
ment, as long as we are focusing on an art form. 

Senator Cohen. Thank you. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Before we call on C. Delores, I would 
like to start off by responding and saying to the panel and to the 
audience the purpose of this hearing is not and never has been to 
blame the victims. Let us start with that. Quite frankly, I think 
that it is unfortunate to have as part of the testimony blaming the 
fighters for social justice for the failures of their struggle. 

I know Dr. Tucker's name was mentioned, as was Reverend 
Jackson's, and I feel compelled to speak to that issue because I 
have known Dr. Tucker's struggle the 15 years I have known of her 
when she was the treasurer in 

Ms. Tucker. Secretary of State. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Secretary of State. Going back to that 
day, this is someone who has devoted her life to trying to make 
things better, to bring attention to things like education and job 
creation, and to get people to pay attention, Mr. James, to the very 
things you are talking about. 

So, really, you know, you talk about pitting people against each 
other. If anything, we are seeing that even on this panel in the 
sense of focusing inward and missing really what ought to be the 
focus and the target of our concerns. We are not talking about 
blaming the victims. 

I would say also, in keeping with the quote about "agitate, agi- 
tate," agitation certainly is appropriately always. You have to agi- 
tate for change. It comes of that. Power yields nothing except to a 
demand. It never has and it never will. But there is a difference 
between people who are working to help to improve the quality of 
life and people who are working in just the opposite direction, to 
hurt, who are acting out either in rebellion or riot or drug use or 
sexism or cannibalism, or whatever. That is the perverse side of 
perhaps the same phenomenon. 

So when we have hearings like this — and this has really been a 
fascinating one for me. I think this has been delightful and all of 
the witnesses here have done just a fabulous job, but Senator 
Cohen is exactly right. There has been a great deal of conversation 
in the Senate about Senator Moynihan's paper on defining devi- 
ancy down, but I think we have to ask the question, where is the 
floor and who gets to drive that level — you know, assuming that 
the level is there, to what extent will we ignore the fact that there 
is money being made out of the floor going lower and lower, that 
there are consequences of the floor being lower and lower. 

Especially for our society, we, I think, have a responsibility to 
our children to begin to address — again, as we address and focus 
in on, if you will, the root causes, as we focus in on the phenome- 


non — and Professor Dyson and I had a conversation about the dif- 
ference between calUng the expression a pathology versus calling 
the condition a pathology. There is a distinction. 

But as we work to resolve the condition itself, I think we also 
have an obligation as a society, as a community, as a Senate Judi- 
ciary subcommittee, as an industry, and I know you have taken 
some steps with your magazine that have been laudable ones. I no- 
tice even the cartoon on the back was essentially one that says this 
killing of each other is only helping the forces of hate. 

So I think we need to talk about where the responsibility is and 
what, if anjrthing, we can do, while protecting that most fundamen- 
tal of our fundamental freedoms, which is the freedom of speech 
and expression. So I think that the reason for having this hearing 
and the second panel that will come up is to discuss what we can 
do about that which is clearly a phenomenon that does not bode 
well, that does not speak well for what we have turned over to our 

C. Delores? 

Ms. Tucker. Yes. I would just like to address the young man, 
and I will do that after the hearings are over. The reason the Na- 
tional Political Congress of Black Women was founded was because 
at the 1984 convention I was sort of working with Jesse Jackson, 
who at that time was running for President of the United States, 
and one of the things that we tried to do at that convention was 
to get a full employment bill in the platform to get the kinds of is- 
sues that would alleviate these conditions in our communities. We 
were not able to get them into the platform as we wanted, and we 
were working with Reverend Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters and 
Shirley Chisholm and others, including yourself. 

That is what we were there trying to do to make sure that the 
Democratic Party that we are a part of would include those issues 
of full employment, of jobs, of training, of education, and that is 
what we did. When we found out that we could not include many 
of those issues in the platform, we decided that we would organize 
ourselves, and 1 month later we came back and did that to speak 
to these very issues. 

So Reverend Jesse Jackson — we sometimes call him the father of 
this organization because he said we need to organize. We are 
working at that, but we also were encouraged by the entertainment 
commission, co-chaired by Dionne Warwick, helping them to get re- 
spect in the industry. Before they could get that respect and re- 
move the tinsel ceiling that exists for them in Hollywood, the 
women of the entertainment commission directed us to the insults 
and the disrespect that they are receiving through gangster rap. 

We are not condemning the rappers, but we are saying that the 
record industry promotes this. There is not one black institution or 
company in America that could produce that kind of smooth pack- 
aging and distribution. It does not come from the black community. 
It comes from the elite record industry that packages it and distrib- 
utes it, and that is why it is not any longer in L.A., it is all over 
the country and all over the world. 

These negative images are telling the world that this is all we 
are. They are being paid to carry the very images that you talked 
about that have been stereotypical images about us. They are pay- 


ing our young people to give this message about us around the 
world, and that is why we heard the Prime Minister of Japan say 
that we are persons that should not be allowed in their commu- 
nities because of the fact that we would destroy the neighborhood, 
that we are prostitutes and all of that. 

There is a young man here from the hood now from "Peace in the 
Hood" who said that he was in the Marines in Iran. He is some- 
where here in this room, but he said that when he was in Iran, 
these messages have even reached there. When the hostages were 
there, a memo came across his desk that he had access to that said 
let the black soldiers go because they have no value in America; 
America doesn't care about them, so let them go. These are the im- 
ages. These are the things that we sit here for, these kinds of im- 
ages here. 

The 19 children that were found in that home that I talked about 
are seeing this. The 11-year-old boy that shot his sister said that 
he was imitating Snoop Doggy Dog and talking all that Snoop 
Doggy Dog stuff to the girls. The Snoop Doggy Dog art work that 
children can buy has a gun. Snoop Doggy Dog is holding a gun and 
clicking it, and then in another frame it says "kill the ho, kill the 
ho." There is no argument that we can use about that. 

We know about the other problems, but this is pornography. 
Five-year-old children can buy it. An 8-year-old bought it in one of 
the cities and the mother took it and said, what in the world are 
we going to do. She has called. All of the mothers are not under- 
standing what this rap is about, and that is why I thank you for 
holding these hearings because it is an educational process. All of 
us need to talk more and fmd out how we can remove this from 
our children and give them the best and the beauty that they need 
to have in their lives at this particular time. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much. We will have a 
recess for 30 minutes and come back at 1:00. I want to thank this 
panel of witnesses. You were fabulous. We really appreciate the 
various points of view and appreciate your testimony. Thank you. 

This hearing is recessed. [Recess.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. We will now reconvene the hearing of 
the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee. The next panel consists of 
Hilary Rosen, Steve McKeever, Nicholas Butterworth and David 
Harleston. I understand there were two other witnesses planned to 
testify who have not appeared, but we will go forward with the wit- 
nesses who are here. I want to thank you for joining us. 

Why don't we start with Ms. Rosen? 



Ms. Rosen. Thank you. Madam Chair. My name is Hilary Rosen. 
I am Executive Vice President of the Recording Industry Associa- 


tion of America. The RIAA represents the interests of about 90 per- 
cent of the sound recording companies in the United States. Thank 
you for inviting me here today. 

I just want to start off by saying, Senator, that in the tradition 
of the closing of the last panel, we know your motives. We know 
that no Senator came here working for youth justice and the bet- 
terment of programs and fighting for gun control with more integ- 
rity and more enthusiasm than you have, and we know that that 
is not what this is about. 

I want to present you with an overview today of the positive and 
important steps the recording industry has taken in its responsibil- 
ity for the explicit content of sound recordings. I also want to take 
this opportunity to show you another side of the young people who 
are creating this music and to share with you some of their efforts 
to address the societal problems that they describe in their music. 

But first, though, if I might, I would like to read a couple of lines 
from a statement from somebody who wanted to be here with you 
today, but who couldn't be. I do this and submit his full statement 
in the record; that is, Quincy Jones. 

He says: 

For decades, I have been involved in the American music culture as a composer, 
record producer, record company executive, artist, arranger and conductor. I have 
watched and guided the careers of several generations of young musicians and, be- 
cause of this, I feel compelled to state my concerns before this committee regarding 
the intense scrutiny of the hip-hop community and the role of rap music in our cul- 

As a citizen and a parent, there are a lot of things happening on the street right 
now that bother me. Like any artists, hip-hop artists are products of their environ- 
ment and their environment is the street. This influences the kind of music they 
make. Hip-hop artists frequently relate experiences which you may find unsettling 
or uncomfortable, but that is their intention. 

The hip-hop culture has tremendous energy and it has become the medium 
through which young people are voicing a whole range of problems and solutions. 
Rap is really the language that addresses those solutions, and as a cultural force 
it holds hope that there are alternatives to gangs, drugs and dying at 23. 

I would ask that his statement be inserted in the record. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Without objection. 

Ms. Rosen. In 1985, the Recording Industry Association of Amer- 
ica reached an agreement with the National PTA and the Parent's 
Music Resource Center. The agreement specified that music re- 
leases containing explicit lyrics, including explicit depictions of vio- 
lence, be identified so that parents can make intelligent listening 
choices for their children. 

In 1990, after communicating with parents, record companies 
and retailers, we established through the RIAA a voluntary, uni- 
form parental advisory logo and uniform terms for its placement. 
The standardized logo was implemented to increase overall 
consumer awareness of the advisory sticker and to provide parents 
with an easily identifiable means of singling out recordings with 
explicit themes. 

Each record company, in consultation with their artists, deter- 
mines which of their recordings will display the logo. The black and 
white logo 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Could you say that again, the last part 
of your statement? 


Ms. Rosen. The decision to place the logo is made by each record 
company, in consultation with their artists. 

The black and white logo shown here is standard in size and in 
color and placement, affixed to the bottom right-hand corner of an 
album or CDs under the cellophane shrink wrap. It is on the per- 
manent packaging. It measures 1.5 by 1 inch on cassettes and CDs, 
and 1 by 1 inch on albums. Let me add that this logo cannot be 

The parental advisory program places the decision on who and 
what to hear where it belongs, with parents and guardians. This 
program is designed to respond to the values of each individual 
parent or guardian and not the values of the Government or the 
values of special interest groups. Let me emphasize that labeling 
is only as effective as parents or guardians choose to make it. 

The parental advisory program is not a token gesture and there 
should be little doubt as to how seriously the industry takes this 
program. In fact, virtually every recording that has been the target 
of public controversy has a parental advisory sticker on its cover. 
The reason I hesitated was because that record — we have checked 
in every single retail outlet in Washington and that record has a 
sticker. I don't know where whoever put that sign up got that cover 
art work because those particular records that are there do have 
the logo. 

The parental advisory program has also served as an important 
tool for radio stations and retailers when considering whether spe- 
cific or explicit recordings should be broadcast or made available 
for sale to minors. 

I assume that there are people in this room who came to this 
hearing today having already drawn a conclusion about rap music. 
To those people, I ask that you open your mind and use today as 
an opportunity to take a closer look at the young people who are 
creating this music. If it does appear that they are celebrating soci- 
ety's ills or glorifying them, perhaps what we are hearing is their 
desperation to rise above despair with energy and, above all, with 

For instance, Run-D.M.C, Das EFX, Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, CL 
Smooth, Grand Puba, M.C. Lyte, Heavy D and other names in rap 
music will be performing free next month at a New York City con- 
cert that requires a gun to attend. The goal of reducing urban vio- 
lence is something that rappers have always played an important 
role in. 

KRS 1, Chuck D, Ice Cube and Ice T are stars of the lecture cir- 
cuit. They spend half their time discussing topics such as practicing 
safe sex, not using drugs, getting a college education, giving back 
to the community and stopping gang violence before numerous au- 
diences in schools and in prisons. 

Yo Yo, a 23-year-old female rapper feminist who has been called 
a gangster, founded the Intelligent Black Woman's Coalition. Its 
mission is to help build self-esteem and unity among women of all 
races. Ice Cube initiated the Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit or- 
ganization set up after the civil unrest in L.A. to help rebuild mi- 
nority communities and provide aid to the homeless and the elder- 
ly. A great number of rap artists have also worked closely with the 

88-398 0-95-3 


NAACP and Rock the Vote, as you will hear, to encourage kids to 
participate in the political system by doing voter registration. 

The efforts I have described are merely representative of numer- 
ous efforts that have been undertaken by artists and their compa- 
nies and what we believe has in a very positive way affected the 
communities in which they live. 

I thank you for the opportunity to appear and I would be happy 
to answer any questions. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Jones was not available for press 

[The prepared statement of Ms. Rosen follows:] 

Prepared Statement of Hilary Rosen on Behalf of the Recording Industry 

Association of America 

My name is Hilary Rosen and I am the executive vice president of the Recording 
Industry Association of America. The RIAA is a trade association that represents 
approximately 90 percent of the companies that create, manufacture or distribute 
sound recordings in the United States. 

Today, I am here to present this committee with an overview of the positive and 
important steps the recording industry has taken in its responsibility for the exphcit 
content of sound recordings. I also want to take this opportunity to show you an- 
other side of the young people who are creating this music and share with you some 
of their efforts to address the societal problems that they describe in their lyrics. 

In 1985, the Recording Industry Association of America reached an agreement 
with the National Parent Teacher Association and the Parents Music Resource Cen- 
ter. The agreement specified that music releases containing explicit lyrics, including 
explicit depictions of violence, be identified so that parents can make intelligent lis- 
tening choices for their children. 

In 1990, after communicating with parents, record companies, and retailers, we 
estabUshed through the RIAA a voluntary, uniform "Parental Advisory" logo and 
uniform terms for its placement. The standardized label was implemented' to in- 
crease overall consumer awareness of the advisory sticker and, specifically, to pro- 
vide parents with a single, standardized and easily identifiable means of singling 
out recordings with explicit themes. Each record company, in consultation with the 
artist, determines whicn of their recordings will display the logo. 

The black and white logo, shown here, is standard in size, color and placement 
and is affixed to the bottom right corner of an album, cassette or CDs' permanent 
packaging underneath the cellophane shrink wrap. The label measures one by one 
half inch on cassettes and CD jewel boxes and one by one half inch by one inch on 
albums. Let me add that this logo is actually printed on the CD or cassette cover 
and cannot be removed. 

Two weeks ago at Congresswoman Ceirdiss Collins' hearing on music Ijoics, she 
held up examples of some explicit sound recordings that had deviated from the Advi- 
sory Program. In one instance the logo was smaller than it should have been, in 
another there was no label where most would have put one. 

In response, the RIAA sent a memorandum last week to the heads of our member 
labels reminding them of the importance of proper use and placement of the logo. 
Enclosed with the memorandum was a fact sheet describing the exact size and 
placement on both CD and cassette packaging. The memorandum was also sent to 
the National Association of Independent Record Distributors & Manufacturers to en- 
courage them to send the material to their member companies who are generally 
smaller independents. The RIAA routinely takes measures to remind industry ex- 
ecutives that the standardized Parental Advisory logo allows record companies and 
their artists to exercise their artistic rights while at the the same time exercising 
their social responsibility to the community. 

The Parental Advisory Program — supplemented by retailer cooperation — is a posi- 
tive response of the music industry as responsible corporate citizens to provide use- 
ful information to parents or guardians to assist them in deciding what their chil- 
dren should buy and hsten to. In so doing, the Parental Advisory Program places 
the decision on who and what to hear, where it belongs — with parents and guard- 
ians. This program is designed to respond to the values of each individual parent 
or guardian, and not the values of the government or the values of special interest 
groups. But let me emphasize that labeling is only as effective as parents or guard- 
ians choose to make it. 


The Parental Advisory Program is not a token gesture and there should be Uttle 
doubt as to how seriously the industry takes this program. In fact, virtually every 
recording that has been the target of public controversy has a Parental Advisory 
sticker on its cover. It is standard practice at most record companies to provide 
lyrics, review art work with their retail accounts and inform their retail accounts 
of the nature of certain explicit product and even prepare explicit and non-explicit 

Although our philosophies and strategies may differ, we are in fact joined in our 
efforts by manv who take responsibility for the explicit content of sound recordings. 
The Parental Advisory Program also has served as an important tool for radio sta- 
tions, cable television and record retailers when considering whether specific explicit 
recordings should be broadcast or made available for sale to minors. 

The Parental Advisory Program works with the cooperation of our retail accounts. 
For instance, Kemp Mill Music, a local chain, stickers every bin containing rap, rock 
and other genres of music popular with young people with a flyer explaining the 
Parental Advisory sticker and its purpose. In addition, Kemp Mill displays posters 
listing suggested rap titles for children as well as for teens. 

The American music industry is one of the most energetic and imaginative busi- 
nesses in our society, employing hundreds of thousands of talented songwriters, art- 
ists, producers and musicians, as well as marketing, promotion, publicity, business 
affairs, manufacturing and distribution personnel wno produce recordings of re- 
markable diversity and depth. And while the industry has been allowed to flourish 
in an unrestricted, unsuppressed, innovative environment, our member companies 
do not underestimate the significance and importance of their social responsibilities 
and their robe as good corporate citizens. This is also especially true of many of the 
rap artists these companies distribute. 

I assume there are people in this room who came to this hearing today having 
already drawn a conclusion about rap music. To those people, I ask that you open 
your mind and use today as an opportunity to take a closer look at the young people 
who are creating this music. Their reality, the world they came from, is often one 
full of poverty, violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, racism, homelessness, hopelessness 
and disrespect. I hope, if nothing else, that you come away today with an awareness 
that rap artists verbalize their reality. If it appears that they celebrate or glorify 
it, perhaps what you're hearing is their desperation to rise above the despair with 
energy and entertainment. 

It should be obvious from their lyrics that these young men and women are pas- 
sionate about what they feel, and many of them translate that passion into time, 
effort and money spent trying to make a difference in a world that only a few in 
this room could accurately imagine. They use their influential role as well as the 
economic power they can marshal to make innumerable contributions to their com- 

For instance, Run-D.M.C, Das EFX, Cypress Hill, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, 
Grand Puba, M.C. Lyte, Heavy D and other top names in rap music will be perform- 
ing free next month at a New York City concert that requires a gun to attend. With 
the goal of reducing urban violence, concert goers will be required to turn in a gun 
in exchange for two tickets to the private concert. 

KRS 1, Chuck D and Ice Cube are stars of the lecture circuit. They spend half 
their time discussing topics such as practicing safe sex, not using drugs, getting a 
college education, giving back to the community and stopping gang violence before 
such audiences as inner city elementary and high schools kiofs and inmates at cor- 
rectional facilities. 

Self Destruction, Public Enemy, Queen Latifa and Boogie Down Productions are 
just a few of the rap artists who helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars 
for a special fund, within the Stop tne Violence Movement, geared specifically at 
fighting black on black crime. 

YoYo, who testified at Congresswoman Collins' hearing, founded the Intelligent 
Black Woman's Coalition. Its mission is to help build self-esteem and unity among 
women of all races in order to help them make a change in their lives and in their 

Ice Cube initiated the Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit organization set up after 
the LA riots to help rebuild minority communities and provide aid to the homeless 
and the elderly. He's also a major contributor to Books Plus, an African-American 
literacy program. 

Many rap artists including Ice T and Easy-E contributed to the making of "We're 
All in the Same Gang," a single and video intended to deglamorize gang violence. 

And a great number of rap artists have done voter registrations drives with the 
NAACP, Rock the Vote and others to encourage kids to participate in the political 


The efforts I have described are merely representative of the many projects under- 
taken by rap artists on their own initiative and the positive influence and great gen- 
erosity they have demonstrated. 

Madame Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present today the views of 
the recording industry. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much. 
Consistent with the first panel, we will hear from the entire 
panel and then come back with questions. 
Mr. McKeever? 


Mr. McKeever. Thank you. Good morning. My name is Steve 
McKeever and I am the Executive Vice President of Talent and 
Creative Affairs for Motown Records. I am pleased to be here today 
to give my personal opinion, briefly explain my company's position, 
and address this sensitive and complex issue in the hope that these 
hearings will be a catalyst to investigate the root causes for our 
youth to cry out using unmistakable images and language of hope- 
lessness and despair. 

While the use of violent and misogynistic images has been con- 
troversial in the music industry, Motown quite frankly has had a 
relatively easy time dealing with this issue for three major reasons. 
First, the misogynistic words don't fit the Motown image. It was a 
company built for translating African American popular culture in 
the 1960's into American popular culture, and the image that we 
have developed really isn't a marriage. 

Second, as a trusted icon of the African American community 
and the general community at large, we at Motown feel a true 
sense of responsibility for the product that we release, particularly 
in our own community. While we don't have a rule book of words 
or statements which are allowed, because I don't believe any lan- 
guage in itself is damning, we have drawn just a few specific prohi- 
bitions; for example, gratuitous misogyny, which I see no value in 
and will not release. 

The third is really just corporate economics. Motown's most valu- 
able asset is its trademark. An association with the most obiection- 
able material could potentially damage or tarnish this valuable and 
historical trademark. 

I only set the stage for Motown, however, to show that although 
we have made distinctions, those distinctions have been made ac- 
cording to our specific history, corporate mission and economic cir- 
cumstances. In the laws of free enterprise, each individual com- 
pany should make its own decisions based on their own capabilities 
and historical, moral and economic agenda without governmental 

Despite the fact, though, that I believe the first amendment 
clearly governs this issue, I am not here to argue first amendment, 
but to simply illuminate what I see as primary realities behind this 
issue. In my opinion, the first reality is that the best art reflects 
real-life experiences. As long as there are things in real life that 
are offensive or objectionable, art will reflect them and be deemed 
objectionable expressions by someone. I think there is no way to 
really stop art imitating life, and I really can't find a reason to. 
This is why I believe a legislative solution to the deemed objection- 
able utterances is not necessarily the direction. 


spect "ve''deblte \7d' TnV tf *'' ^f'r' '^^"« d^-^^^ds intro- 
bpecuve aeoate and it it takes a stand from the legislator.? vmiv 

of ourTlent Society' ""^"'^ '^"''' ^^ " «'^''""*- '° *e root^causes 

ag^tolhe 'art fo™T/,'n'™.°Y- "? ''^^'•<' ^t'-''^'' ""'^y P^id hom- 
age CO tne art torm ot rap and hip-hop, n which I wholeheartpHlv 

concur Rap is one of the most important and exciting eTOlvSTart 

forms to come along in a long time, influencing the fuU spectrum 

?n ffimnrthe 7tnT^J'"'"°"^'"'"'"°"y ^'^^ ^id an exceflent™^ 

in aetaiiing the strife of minonties in our inner cities nerhfln« ihc 

real reason behind many of the works in question L^fwrniout 

rTfic Lnd?;io^^^^^^^^ established ground, please let me say the hor- 

pr^cede tt^^^^^ ^^^^^^ "^^ P°^^ ^^^an communities 

foi?r disturbing expressions sometimes found in this art 

ihfr^^^'' ''^f^^ ^° consider is that I think every generation-I 
think you made some mention in your opening statement-doming 
of age uses music as a distinguishing element from the preS 
generation. I believe deep down that kids are attracted to music 
that their parents are not going to understand. For example in the 
suburbs where, inc dentally, most gangster rap is sold, if your par 

9?nnf '"" ^l ^^l^'^^^^ ^° ^1^^^ P^^^l^y' the Beach Boys, th^e RolUng 
Stones or Chuck Berry, you are not going to define your own iden 
tity via music by buying the latest Rolling Stones record. However 
It you bring home a record that deals with graphic violence thev 
purch^Ise "^ ""'* ''^^'"- Therefore, you made a successful musk 
If history is any indication, long after gangster rap goes the way 
ot punk rock, slam dancing and other now past, forgotten music 

ZfbT^'t^r^^^r.r" ^' ^^"^^^^ expression Embraced by our 
youth which shocks the mainstream. 

nJi^T.S''^ ^'^''' ^^f ^"""l^^ ^^ty ^^^sed during the economic geno- 
cide ot the previous decade in a community where already shaky 
hope for tomorrow has eroded to nothing, the music in question 
here reflects your surroundings. You relate, and therefore it satis- 

We also can't overlook the fact that most people, I think, buy a 
record because the groove feels good, not so much with attention 
to the lyrical content. I think that is probably the most frequent 
reason tor hip-hop purchases because the freshest grooves today 
emanate from the hip-hop world. 

While I do not believe a recording by itself causes devil worship- 
ping, drive-by shootings or misogyny, I do acknowledge that the cu- 
^^^^ri^f fr^^ ^i violent or negative images, whether they come 
irom 1 V, tilm, video games or music, may have a negative impact 
on youth in an environment without any counter-balancing images 
or role models. This is not the fault of the recording industry alone 
However, I do believe that the industry should address, discuss and 
respond to these potentially negative effects. 

Thankfully, the rap community has called attention to the abhor- 
rent and hopeless environment that surrounds our inner cities just 
^^ j^^^stream America's version of rap, which is today's talk show 
and rv talk programs, have shown light on the hidden horrors of 


incest, child abuse, infidelity and date rape occurring in the sub- 

I personally, however, cannot support the ability of a 6-year-old 
to purchase material relating to these disturbing subject matters. 
Ideally, a 6-year-old should not be able to purchase a 2 Live Crew 
record nor a ticket to "Jurassic Park" or listen to a detailed discus- 
sion on penal amputation on the 6:00 news. All material is not ap- 
propriate for all ages. 

We as an industry must make some distinctions. I think this re- 
ality will loom more important as technology moves records and 
other media purchases beyond the traditional retail outlets. I un- 
derstand we have a parental advisory sticker. However, the con- 
cerns raised by parents and community leaders should not be ig- 
nored, and perhaps we need to review the effectiveness of this ap- 
proach. For the record, though, I really do feel a dramatic increased 
concern in the community, in the industry and among artists re- 
garding this issue. 

Finally, the most important reality I think that shapes this issue 
is purely economic. I believe that social change is also accompanied 
by changing economic perspectives. For example, the economic cir- 
cumstances surrounding some of the most pivotal decisions in 
American history, from slavery to the Boston Tea Party to the Su- 
preme Court endorsement of the virtual genocide of the American 
Indian to the end of Jim Crow on Montgomery's buses to the Gulf 
War, all played a major role in the outcome of these events. 

While great leaders have helped change the perception of our so- 
cial environment and have helped pave the way for new thinking, 
the actual changes in behavior, attitude and practices can usually 
be traced to the economic realities that were previously hidden be- 
fore this new way of thinking. For example, I believe the main rea- 
son why African Americans suddenly appeared in toothpaste com- 
mercials during the 1960's was not simply to answer the social 
cries for equality, but because toothpaste companies realized, large- 
ly because of the work of the civil rights movement and civil rights 
leaders, that they could sell more toothpaste more effectively to the 
African American community by using a representative from that 
community. Similarly, today's changing public policy toward smok- 
ing has been enacted because of the acute, demonstrable realiza- 
tion that the expense of tobacco-inflicted disease far outweighs the 
income derived by the tobacco industry. 

The economic reality for artists and the record companies is two- 
fold. As long as the conditions exist, these records will be made, 
and as long as there is demand, they will be sold. While I can't nec- 
essarily endorse every image put up that we have talked about and 
quoted, as long as people want them, I think people will produce 
them. It is really the law of supply and demand, period. 

But most importantly, and I think this is really the emphasis, as 
long as the kids feel no hope for tomorrow, let alone today, these 
cries will be expressed in our music as well as other art forms. It 
is important that the Government attack the very root causes in 
this form— Government, industry and individuals attack the very 
root causes of this form of expression by directly addressing the 
problems in our inner cities through support of Federal programs. 


education and messages with positive values that funnel directly 
into the community. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views with you. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much, Mr. McKeever. 

Nicholas Butterworth, Executive Director of Rock the Vote. 


Mr. Butterworth. Thank you. Senator Moseley-Braun, Senator 
Cohen, thank you for this opportunity to appear. I am testifying on 
behalf of Rock the Vote Action Project's over 350,000 members and 
supporters, who are young people all across America deeply com- 
mitted to working through the political system to improve our lives 
and our future. We do voter registration all around the country at 
rock concerts. 

We have worked with hundreds of recording artists to promote 
political participation through television, media appearances and 
personal appearances around the country. We have lobbied on is- 
sues like motor voter, voter registration reform and community 
services, and we are currently involved in a major campaign to in- 
volve young people in this discussion about how to resolve the ter- 
rible crisis of youth violence. So I speak as somebody who is deeply 
concerned with young people. 

I represent hundreds of thousands of young people and I have a 
message which is not so much for this committee because I under- 
stand that you have taken pains to stress that we are not here to 
talk about censorship. There is no legislation pending, as I under- 
stand it, which would be in violation of the first amendment. None- 
theless, there have been statements made here today which clearly 
point toward censorship, I think treat the first amendment very 
lightly, I think treat young people condescendingly, and it sends a 
terrible message to the young people who are out there, and even 
the young people in this room, about what Government can do. 

I want to focus on the political implications of this discussion for 
young people, as well as on what we can do, which is the most im- 
portant thing that we can come out of here with today. 

First of all, let me talk about some of the claims that gangster 
rap is advocating violence and glamorizing violence. I don't know 
of a single gangster rap record which is directly addressed to listen- 
ers urging them to perform violent acts. It just isn't the case. Usu- 
ally, gangster rap records are in the first person by a rapper or 
group of rappers boasting about perhaps violent acts that they 
have committed. They are playing characters. 

Some of the lyrics that have been quoted, for example, from the 
Getto Boys today which are most shocking are from a song called 
"Mind of a Lunatic." Clearly, there is a character being portrayed 
here, which is not the same as the person. There is complexity in 
hip-hop, including gangster rap. There is nuance, there is subtlety, 
there is irony, and young people understand this and some of the 
people who want to ban rap music don't seem to understand it at 

Senator Cohen. Mr. Butterworth, could I ask you to tell me what 
the subtlety is in the album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" and 
"Dick Almighty?" 

Mr. Butterworth. I am not familiar with that song, so I 


Senator Cohen. You are not familiar with that? 

Mr. BuTTERWORTH. No. I can't tell you. 

Senator Cohen. I am going to see to it that you have a copy of 
the lyrics and I want you to tell me at the conclusion of this hear- 
ing what is the subtlety involved in that. Thank you. 

Mr. BuTTERWORTH. I will be happy to do so, Senator. 

I would also add that all of this rap music comes in a context, 
not just a societal context, but an internal context within hip-hop. 
There is a critique inside hip-hop of sexism and misogyny and, to 
a certain extent, of homophobia and certainly of violence and vio- 
lent imagery. 

I have just been handed the lyrics to the song. I will have to get 
back to you after the hearing on the subtlety in these lyrics. 

You can't just read a hip-hop lyric and say this advocates some- 
thing and young people are going out and doing it. It is the equiva- 
lent of saying if Snoop Dog said jump off a bridge, the youth of 
America would go ana jump off a bridge. It is insulting to young 
people. It is ridiculous, in my view, to suggest that these or any 
lyrics could be major contributing factors to the increase in youth 
violence that we have seen in the last 5 years when we have so 
many other social realities which are much more urgent and press- 

It has been wonderful to hear finally a gathering in Washington, 
DC, which has discussed, as nearly every speaker has, the terrible 
realities that our young people are confronting. But I must tell you 
that young people across America are not getting the message that 
Government cares about them, is working for them and can deliver 
jobs, health care, education and all the other things that many peo- 
ple in the rap community have been talking about for years. 

I would like to read some lyrics from Tupac Shakur from a song 
called "Trapped" which came out 2 years ago. 

How can I feel guilty after all the things they did to me, sweated me, hunted me, 
trapped in my own community? One day I'm going to bust, blow up on this society. 
Why did you lie to me? I couldn't find a trace of equality. 

This is not a justification for violence. This is an opinion ex- 
pressed by a character in a song. 

What I Want to point to here is that it is a very political opinion, 
and a lot of what comes under the heading of gangster rap is ex- 
tremely political. I think you. Senator Cohen, earlier at the begin- 
ning of this hearing said what happens if people want to distribute 
the teachings of Minister Farrakhan. Rappers have already been 
talking about Nation of Islam ideology for years. There is a 

Senator COHEN. I am going to come to that, if I could. Madam 
Chairwoman, in terms of whether the record industry would be in- 
terested in promoting that on a massive scale, since it may appeal 
to a lot of people, and the target audience of those words is quite 
larger and wider than what we are talking about here. I would be 
interested in finding out who in the record industry would be inter- 
ested in promoting that kind of hip-hop or rap. 

Mr. BUTTERWORTH. The point that I would like to make in re- 
sponse is that no matter whether you or I or anyone agrees or dis- 
agrees with the political implications of what some of these young 
people who are artists are saying, they are making political state- 


ments. They are talking within a community of young people about 
politics, and to impose censorship or restrictions on them not only 
would violate the first amendment, which is a fundamental right 
of our democracy, but I also think it sends a terrible message to 
young people around the country. 

Young people don't want censorship. They want politicians to ad- 
dress their real problems. They are not getting the message. We 
work every day at Rock the Vote to convince young people that 
they can be part of meaningful change. Our job gets much, much 
harder when adults hear cries of anger, cries of pain, and just want 
to turn a switch and shut off the noise. The anger won't go away, 
the pain won't go away. The violence, I am sorry to say, will not 
go away even if banned every gangster rap record that some com- 
mittee could find. 

The only thing, in my view and Rock the Vote's view, that can 
contribute to developing a youth culture which will be more posi- 
tive is supporting the efforts that young people themselves are 
making. That means there needs to be more expression, more de- 
mocracy, more activism, and you can't tell young people what to 
think and what not to think if you are going to work in partner- 
ship, hand-in-hand with them to help them understand that they 
truly can build a better world. 

Thank you. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Butterworth follows:] 

Prepared Statement of Nicholas Butterworth on Behalf of the Rock The 


My name is Nicholas Butterworth I represent over 350,000 members and support- 
ers of Rock The Vote Action Project, a national youth advocacy organization of 
which I serve as Executive Director. I also represent Rock The Vote Education 
Fund, a non-profit group which educates young people about the political process 
and issues of importance to our generation. Rock The Vote conducts voter registra- 
tion campaigns and advocates for government action to benefit young people, such 
as voter registration reform and community service. 

Rock The Vote's members and supporters are strongly opposed to government-im- 
posed censorship; our slogan, "Censorship is UnAmerican," speaks for itself At the 
same time, we oppose sexism, homophobia, and violence among young people. We 
are sympathetic to the motivations of some of the concerned parents and educators 
here today. But we disagree strenuously with some about the best way to fight vio- 
lence and sexism. 

Rock The Vote was founded by members of the recording industry and we have 
received significant support from artists and companies in this industry. I think we 
can fairly be cited as an example of very substantial, socially positive work to bene- 
fit young people supported by this industry. We are front-line fighters against the 
alienation and hopelessness that make violence possible. Literally hundreds of 
America's most popular hip-hop, metal, alternative and pop recording artists have 
worked with us to reawaken the spirit of political participation among young Ameri- 
cans. In the 1992 election, we registered over 250,000 young people to vote and in- 
fluenced nearly a million more, contributing to the largest increase in young voter 
turnout since 1972, when 18 to 21 year-olds first voted nationally. 

Currently, Rock The Vote Action Project is launching a major campaign to involve 
millions of young people in the struggle against youth violence through community 
forvuns around the country. Rock The Vote Education Fund is participating in a 
project named "Freedom Summer '94," with other organizations including the Black 
Student Leadership Network, commemorating the memory of the Freedom Summer 
project in Mississippi in 1964 by working, in some of the most devastated commu- 
nities in the nation, with small, youth-led groups who are building organizations 
and programs as alternatives to violence. Our organization, and our generation, des- 
perately wants to reduce the terrible harm young people are inflicting on each other 
around the country. 

88-398 0-95-4 


But one thing is clear; government-imposed restrictions on popular music, wheth- 
er it is outright censorship, as we have seen attempted repeatedly over the last dec- 
ade, or pressure on artists or companies to halt the release of records with certain 
words or certain attitudes, will not help youn^ people, despite the best intentions 
and honorable record of many who are speaking out against certain music. From 
oiu- perspective, the call for government intervention is misguided, damaging, and 

First of all, let me address the contention that music lyrics have a negative or 
harmful effect on listeners. Whether this claim is made by religious fundamental- 
ists, as is often the case, or by distinguished civil rights leaders, as is the case 
today, the fact remains that this allegation is unproven and probably unprovable. 
It is hearsay. It is insulting to music listeners. And it shows a fundamental mis- 
understanding of music and poetry — which is what hip-hop lyrics are. 

Music listeners are not stupid. They understand nuances, irony, complexity, ref- 
erences, and the difference between a characterization and a real person. The anti- 
lyrics advocates don't seem to hear any of these things. Young people who listen to 
hip-hop understand the difference between the word "gun" and a real gun. Some 
people seem to act like they're the same thing. 

Hip-hop, as many have pointed out, is a reflection of social reality. That is true. 
But nip-hop is more than that. It is a highly sophisticated medium of communica- 
tion between young people. In fact, many of the issues raised by this hearing are 
addressed in hip-hop itself So-called "gangster" rappers, for example, often take 
pains to stress that they are telling stones reflecting their communities' experience, 
that they are sending a message to mainstream America, that the lives of the char- 
acters they portray are full of fear, mistrust, and doubt, and that they wish society 
offered a better way. Some rappers, like Queen Latifah, have spoken out strongly 
against sexism in reality and music through their lyrics. Others, like Masta Ace, 
have criticized the medium of gangster rap and the violent poses some rappers 
adopt. And finally, much of the confrontational language in hardcore rap is a meta- 
phor for contests over rapping skills. When rappers say they are "hard," it refers 
to lyrical style, not necessarily to everyday life. 

The point here is that there is already a strong critical voice within hip-hop about 
issues of violence and sexism, and a highly articulated understanding of characters, 
voices, and messages that comment on but do not equal reality. Young people who 
are rap listeners understand all of these things. It seems their self-appointed guard- 
ians do not. It is not the proper place of the United States government to limit com- 
plexity because of ignorance. 

Secondly, I want to stress the importance of the First Amendment as a fundamen- 
tal political right. Rock The Vote's members know the text of this Amendment be- 
cause it is printed on the back of our membership card. The First Amendment ad- 
dresses the separation of church and state, the freedom of speech and the press, and 
the right "peaceably to' assemble and petition the government for a redress of griev- 
ances." There is a reason all these issues are addressed at once; they all bear on 
the political freedom of opinion, expression, and protest that is the essential under- 
pinning of a democracy. 

No matter how objectionable some may find the opinions expressed in some 
songs — and Rock The Vote shares many concerns about misogyny, violence, and 
homophobia — every American who cares about civil rights in a democratic republic 
ought to recognize that singling out the expression of particular ideas by particular 
groups for censorship is a political act with terrible implications for our society. 

In fact, much hip-hop, especially so-called "gangster rap," is deeply political, both 
implicitly and explicitly. And many of the criticisms directed at rappers are political 
in nature. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article this Satur- 
day. February 19, entitled "Rap Album Angers Menlo Fare PoUce." (p. A15) In one 
song on a local compilation, a rapper used an expletive to refer to a particular offi- 
cer, by name, and his anti-narcotics team. The cover of this albvun shows a police 
officer hanging by the neck at a local street corner. 

I use this example because it starkly portrays who is probably the single most- 
often articulated political idea in hardcore rap; opposition to police forces in cities 
around this country. Often, the anger and outrage at police racism and brutality is 
expressed in fantasies about killing police officers, as on the cover of this album. 
Sometimes, as in the song referred to, police forces and even individual officers are 
referred to by name — although I know of no example in which a rap record has di- 
rectly urged listeners to kill police officers. 

Should we applaud the fantasy? Absolutely not. Can we deny the reality that 
there is "a near-total lack of faith in institutions", as a survey we commissioned last 
year reported, especially with respect to urban police among young African Ameri- 
cans and young Americans in general? We cannot. Can we say there is no justifica- 


tion for this attitude after Rodney King, after massive erosions of civil liberties dur- 
ing the failed war on drugs, when city after city has seen reports of poUce corruption 
and the experience of police harassment based solely on skin color is widespread 
among young minority males? We do not think so. Others may disagree. But it is 
not this government's job to decide. 

Young people have the right to express their dissatisfaction with the world they 
live in. Take away that right and you will destroy what remaining confidence there 
is in the ability of this social and governmental system to deliver justice and oppor- 
tunity. On the same page of the Chronicle where the rap story appears, there is a 
story about a California legislator pleading guilty to racketeering. There could not 
be a more stark witness to the hypocrisy of silencing the critics of our society. 

Third, I want to take this opportunity to remind this body and the other witnesses 
here of the terrible lack of meaningful life choices many young people face. The fact 
of the matter is this: America currently does not provide adequate employment, po- 
lice protection, health care, or education for millions of young people, and the num- 
bers are getting worse and worse. I ask that all of us remember that we have a 
responsibility as leaders to acknowledge the reality that young people face. 

That reality is bleak. Full-time employment for young Anican-Americans has 
been dropping since the early '80s. Todays minimum wage is not enough to lift a 
family of three above the poverty line. Teenage African-American unemployment 
was measured at 37 percent in December, 1993— a figure that doesn't include invol- 
untary part-time workers or discouraged workers or young people who have yet to 
hold a single job long enough to qualify- Things are so bad in many cities that deal- 
ing drugs is a rational economic choice, as a RAND institute study has confirmed. 

In todays world, young people with college and graduate degrees are forced into 
minimum-wage, low benefit jobs. Many young people without a high school diploma 
can't find any work at all. And the mandatory minimum, sentencing laws passed 
in the 1980's have created a generation of young people shaped — and deformed — 
by passing through a court and prison system that even Federal judges say can't 
deliver justice. 

Meanwhile, as opportunity declines and no hope is in sight, a flood of cheap guns 
has given every teenager the means to turn anger into deadly violence. Again, I re- 
mind you of the lack of faith in the police as a protective force in many urban com- 
munities. Today, young people are carrying guns for protection from each other. 

Against this backdrop; bad schools, poor health care, a lack of decent jobs, and 
a lack of faith in the government's willingness and ability to solve these problems, 
it is unacceptable to point at music as the cause of violence. It is certainly unaccept- 
able to young people, and it should be unacceptable to adults of good will and con- 
science as well. 

Instead of telling young people what to think and not to think, instead of pretend- 
ing that they know what s best for this generation, people who are concerned about 
racism, sexism, and violence ought to work with the young people who are trying 
to build alternatives. Rock The Vote has led the way in reaching millions of young 
people with the message that voting matters, that they can change their world 
through political participation, not through violence, and ttiat our democratic system 
of government can work to solve the problems confronting our generation. We are 
trying to build hope where there is little. We are trying to convince young people 
that older generations can listen and can respond to our needs. 

All of this work is made much more difficult when leaders focus on the music in- 
stead of the message. Young people are angry. They are letting the rest of us know 
about it. If our only response is trjang to turn down the noise, we will confirm their 
worst fears. We will truly have failed this generation. All of us ought to do better. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much. 
Our next witness is Mr. Harleston, the head of Def Jam, of 


Mr. Harleston. Thank you very much. Senator Moseley-Braun, 
Senator Cohen, I am delighted to be here and I want to thank you 
for the opportunity to testify before this subcommittee. 

My name is David Harleston. I am president of Rush Associated 
Label, or RAL, which has as its largest and most prolific division 
Def Jam Recordings, Incorporated. To my left is Carmen Ashurst- 
Watson, who is the president of Rush Communications, the func- 


tional parent of Rush Associated Labels. Def Jam Recordings, or 
Def Jam, was founded in 1983 by Russell Simmons, who has been 
widely recognized as the individual who brought hip-hop to the cul- 
tural fore. Russell Simmons currently serves as our chief executive 

RAL is engaged primarily in the creation, marketing, promotion 
and distribution of the spectrum of music that is known as hip-hop. 
In 1993 hip-hop music, in all its forms, accounted for approxi- 
mately 7.8 percent of the estimated $10.2 billion United States 
music market. Without question, hip-hop has evolved into a major 
contributor to the music industry. 

Russell Simmons and Def Jam have been integral to the growth 
and popularity of hip-hop music. This music and this culture have 
achieved a level of creative energy which justifies our corporate 
commitment to the genre. Hip-hop has provided an extraordinary 
avenue of artistic expression for African American youth and it has 
economically empowered a generation of artists, producers and oth- 
ers who have imported hip-hop culture and music into areas such 
as fashion, film, advertising, comedy, television and publishing. 

I would be less than candid if I did not acknowledge my concerns 
about this hearing. During the past year, the hip-hop community 
has been the subject of intense scrutiny concerning the role of rap 
music in our culture. Some critics have suggested, for example, 
that rap music glorifies violence, degrades women and erodes com- 
munity values. I do not question the sincerity of those who have 
expressed those views. However, I strongly believe that those views 
are myopic. 

Let us be clear. Like all artists, hip-hop artists are products of 
their environment. Their environments have influenced who they 
are and the kinds of music they make. Accordingly, hip-hop artists 
frequently related experiences which many find unsettling or un- 
comfortable. That is precisely the point that certain artists are try- 
ing to make. 

However, it is increasingly apparent that certain opponents of 
hip-hop are of the misguided view that if we do not hear about the 
issues raised and addressed in the music, then those issues will not 
exist. In fact, one could argue that efforts to suppress hip-hop art- 
ists are efforts to ignore unpleasant realities that exist in America's 
backyard. Such a view simply denies reality. Silencing the mes- 
senger will not extinguish the problem. 

While I am here today to discuss hip-hop culture and the record- 
ing industry, I hope that we can also begin a constructive conversa- 
tion about the conditions to which some members of our society are 
subjected, conditions which, in fact, make gangsterism appear to be 
a reasonable life choice. 

As a record company, Def Jam is essentially a manufacturer, 
marketer, promoter and distributor of recorded music to consum- 
ers. Fundamentally, we discover, develop and sell music. In so 
doing, we work closely with artists, managers and producers, all of 
whom have a direct and immediate interest in the success of a par- 
ticular recording. 

When we make a decision to sign an artist, that decision fully 
embraces the artist's vision. Our primary inquiry is whether the 
artist is authentic and distinctive. In our view, the dominant con- 


cern is that an artist write and rap from important experiences or 
understandings in that artist's life. Those experiences may not be 
pretty or pleasant. They need only be real. 

It is for these reasons, therefore, that we do not require an artist 
to adhere to prescribed rules relating to lyrical content. Rather, in 
deciding whether, in our judgment, the work of a particular artist 
is of sufficient merit to warrant release, we ask only whether the 
work is true to the artist's vision, as we understood that vision at 
the time we signed the artist. 

We also acknowledge the significance of lyric symbolism in our 
artists' work. Like all recording artists, rap artists engage in meta- 
phor and imagery in order to make their points. Curiously, rap art- 
ists are rarely given credit for their use of metaphor. Rather, they 
are held unfairly to a literal standard which is not applied to cre- 
ators and performers of other forms of art. 

Some critics of hip-hop music have also suggested that the lyrics 
will bring about the very problems they address. Some have sug- 
gested, for example, that the music contributes to a preponderance 
of violence and misogjniy in our communities. Of course, that sug- 
gestion ignores both history and reason. Violence and sexism in the 
African American community and the United States generally 
clearly predate the rise in popularity of rap music. 

Moreover, tragic as it is, violence is something that many of our 
urban youth must confront regularly, and sexism remains a per- 
nicious force throughout our society. As dimensions of our artists' 
experiences, these themes will obviously and inevitably find their 
way into the music. 

One of our most important functions as a company is to amplify 
the voices of African American youth whose experiences have his- 
torically been ignored by mainstream America. Those voices are at 
the moment articulating bleak scenarios throughout this country. 
The issue, however, is not whether to suppress, regulate, restrict, 
segregate or otherwise curb the distribution of hip-hop music. 
Rather, the issue is whether we as a community and a Nation are 
prepared to squarely address the very issues that have given rise 
to the lyrics that some find so troubling. That, Mr. Chairman, is 
the challenge. 

Thank you. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. It is Madam Chairman. 

Mr. Harleston. I beg your pardon. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. If I may, I will start with Mr. 
Harleston and work back and then go to Senator Cohen. There is 
a distinction, is there not, between hip-hop and gangster rap? 

Mr. Harleston. In my understanding, hip-hop is a genre of 
music. Gangster rap, as I have heard it defined, described, reported 
by others, is a subset of that genre. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. All right, and the specific fact is that 
this hearing is focused on particularly the gangster rap as the sub- 
set. It was that genre that we were looking at because that was 
the genre that glorifies violence, portrays misogyny, necrophilia, et 
cetera. Was that your understanding, because I think it is impor- 
tant that we not wind up wrapping the blanket across the board 
of hip-hop around the issues that brought us here today? 


Mr. Harleston. I appreciate that, Senator. It was my under- 
standing that the purpose of the hearing was to explore the effect 
of a variety of lyrics, specifically lyrics that have been characterized 
as misogynistic, violent, sexually graphic, on its listeners. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Mr. Harleston, you also made the 
point, as has been made by Mr. Butterworth, Mr. McKeever and 
Ms. Rosen — I mean, this panel has made the point that the issue 
here is the root causes of the problem and that society has an obli- 
gation to address that issue. 

But I would turn the question back around and ask what specifi- 
cally has this industry done to address those root causes. What 
specifically has the industry done to employ, empower or otherwise 
be responsive to these young people who are making this music, 
who are expressing the conditions in the community? 

Mr. Harleston. I deeply appreciate the question. The response 
is really on several levels. At its most basic and essential level, the 
industry has provided these artists with an opportunity to get mes- 
sages out in such a manner that we are having a hearing today. 
Indeed, some would argue that the purposes of gangster rap are 
being served right here on Capitol Hill as we discuss some of these 
difficult and old issues relating to our liberalization and develop- 
ment as a people. 

On a more specific, almost kind of microeconomic level, if you 
will, Def Jam Recordings has an employee roster almost 50 percent 
of which is comprised of individuals who come from the very com- 
munities about which gangster rappers are often writing. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. But, certainly, Def Jam is the excep- 
tion and not the rule in that regard. 

Mr. Harleston. I am speaMng on behalf of Def Jam, being a 
representative of Def Jam. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I am asking you the general question. 

Mr. Harleston. I can't respond as to the employee rosters of 
record companies that are not mine, but if I 

Senator Moseley-Braun. We will ask Ms. Rosen. Hold your 

Ms. Rosen, do you have the answer to that question? 

Ms. Rosen. As to whether employees of record companies produc- 
ing rap music are white? 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I asked the question originally, to 
what extent the industry was being responsive to the root causes 
that everybody here concurs are the basis out of which this expres- 
sion springs, and Mr. Harleston started to say that his company 
was involved in hiring youngsters out of inner-city communities. 
He could not answer the question with regard to the industry as 
a whole, so I put the question to you. 

Ms. Rosen. Again, as David said, there are a couple of levels. I 
think as a primary level, the artists themselves are very involved 
in their communities. I gave a few examples of some of the things 
that they do. They do that not only with themselves, but with their 
producers and their publicists and their band members and their 
musicians. So there is a broad cross-section of people who are in 
this business who are in their community. There is not this sort 
of Chinese wall between these artists and their community. 


I think the second issue about employment and who these com- 
panies actually represent or comprise is more difficult to answer, 
frankly. I think some background on the financial development of 
so-called gangster rap might be useful. As a practical matter, rap 
music did not start with major record companies. You heard that 
from the previous panel. It started with small, independent record 
companies and independent artists essentially creating this music 
in their garages and distributing it out of the trunks of their cars. 

It has really only been in the last 2 years or so that even some 
of the significant majors have picked up distribution of this music, 
and so all of those other companies still exist. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I understand that, and that is the en- 
trepreneur argument that was made earlier in one of the panels. 
I am talking specifically right now, Ms. Rosen, about the rest of the 
industry that has picked up this genre or this subset and is making 
money from it. The information that the staff has provided me indi- 
cates that some of the larger companies making the most out of 
this industry, or this subset of the industry, which we again have 
already seen is in the millions, if not billions, of dollars, do not 
have minorities in the policymaking, decisionmaking aspects. 

Priority, specifically, has few minority employees and no African 
Americans, certainly, in power positions or decisionmaking posi- 
tions with regard to the company. So even with regard to the pa- 
rental advisory, which you say is decided on a case-by-case basis, 
there is nobody from the community that is going to be impacted 
by this music making decisions about whether or not the sticker 
goes on. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I think it would be a misrepresentation to say 
that because there aren't African Americans in a company that 
somehow they don't care about the community in which this music 
is. The hip-hop community is a black and white community. I think 
the second piece is that as an overall percentage of the music popu- 
lation, rap actually is going down. It is not going up. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I understand, Ms. Rosen, but the char- 
acterization you make — that is not the point I am making. I was 
asking the question specifically, to what extent is the industry 
which is making the money, making profits from this genre — to 
what extent is that industry fully opening up itself to decisionmak- 
ing, to involvement, input from the communities that are the most 
affected by this genre. 

Ms. Rosen. We can talk about a couple of specific companies. 
You mentioned Priority. I hate to say this, but I think Priority is 
more the exception than the rule. The name that is around now is 
Inner Scope, the label that Snoop Dog is on. Yes, it is distributed 
by the Warner Music Group, but the reality is that Death Row 
Records is a record company created by Shug Nite and Dr. Dre and 
they merely went to Inner Scope for their distribution. But the 
music is created by these artists and their African American execu- 
tives making those decisions about what to put on their music. Def 
Jam is distributed through Sony, a major corporation, but as David 
will tell you, that is who makes the decision. Are there rap labels 
that have white presidents? Yes. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. That is not exactly the point I am 
making. We started with your testimony regarding the decisions on 


the parental advisory, explicit lyrics, et cetera, and by the time we 
got to Mr. Harleston we were talking about responsibility in the in- 
dustry. So my question, which I thought at the time was a simple 
one, and I don't want it to get turned on its head, was simply with 
regard to the industry, number one, what is it doing. 

Mr. Harleston started talking about that and he raised the ques- 
tion of who was making decisions in the industry, and I asked him 
the question, then, whether or not members of the community that 
are affected by this industry that makes money from this genre 
were represented in the policymaking and the decisionmaking por- 
tions of the industry, and that is when I put that question to you. 
It is not intended to be antagonistic and I am not 

Ms. Rosen. I understand. I am trying to explain it. I think that 
perhaps a more responsive answer would be that really the indus- 
try is not a monolith. It is comprised of very large corporations and 
very small corporations, you know, two and three people. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. But the large corporations are using 
the small corporations with regard to this aspect of their distribu- 
tion, if what you just said 

Ms. Rosen. I am not sure what you mean by the word "using," 

Senator Moseley-Braun. You mentioned that distribution with 
regard to 

Senator Cohen. As I understand it, Def Jam 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Def Jam is with Sony. 

Senator Cohen. Def Jam is distributed by Columbia, which is 
owned by Sony, which is ironic in view of the statements made by 
Japan about blacks in America. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Here we are. Warner 

Mr. Harleston. Def Jam is distributed by Sony Music Enter- 
tainment, Inc. Our label affiliation is Columbia Records. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. These are the six international compa- 
nies that dominate the manufacturing and distribution: Warner, 
Thom-EMI-PLC, Sony, Matsushita, Bertelsmann AG, and Philips 
Electronic. So to the extent that there are linkages between these 
companies as distributors of the particular genre that we are ad- 
dressing today, I guess I turn to you looking for information. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, there are linkages, but what I am suggesting 
is those aren't the only linkages and that music doesn't only get out 
there through these six major distribution networks. The independ- 
ent network in 

Senator Moseley-Braun. We still have the back-of-the-trunk op- 

Ms. Rosen. The independent network in rap music is very 
strong. I think that because one or two hit records really going 
through some of those major distributions got a lot of fame this 
year that all of a sudden there became this perception 

Senator Moseley-Braun. But, certainly, Ms. Rosen — again, I 
don't want to be combative here and I 

Ms. Rosen. And I don't want to protect majors at the expense 
of small companies. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Let us be clear. I am just trying to get 
information. That is the purpose of a hearing. 

Ms. Rosen. Right. 


Senator Moseley-Braun. To the extent that you have someone 
selhng this stuff out of the trunk of a car, its distribution and its 
promotion is going to be limited. To the extent that you have an 
international worldwide corporation with unlimited resources, its 
distribution and its promotion is going to be wider. 

If we start with the proposition that some aspects of this genre 
have a connection, or not — and that is what the hearing is about — 
to conduct and to the conditions in the community — now, which 
came first, the chicken or the egg, is what we are talking about 
right now, whether the conditions bred the expression or the ex- 
pressions are helping to feed back and breed the conditions. 

But, certainly, to the extent that we exacerbate distribution and 
the promulgation of this information, then the big guys, the big 
companies, bear, I would think, a greater responsibility to the com- 
munity than the kids selling something out of the trunk of their 

Ms. Rosen. I think that is fair, but the irony in that reality is 
that it wasn't until you had some major distribution into the Music 
Lands and the Sam Goodys and the mall stores that the music got 
into the suburbs. It wasn't like the music was created there and 
it came into the inner city. It sort of ended up going the other way 
anound, so eliminating the major distribution function does not 
solve, I think, the issue that we are getting to about the effect on 
inner-city kids. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. No, and please understand. Frankly, 
having heard in this particular hearing the testimony today, I don't 
know that there is a single silver bullet that solves the problem. 
I mean, if anjrthing, we are looking at a range of things and we 
are talking about what is the universe of responses that make 

I have to take issue — I forget who it was who kept throwing the 
word "censorship" around. We are not looking to censor. I mean, I 
feel very strongly about the first amendment. I feel very strongly 
about artistic freedom, but this goes to the point of being an ex- 
pression of a pathology that has been at least testified to as being 
artively injurious. So the question becomes where is the respon- 
sibility and what, if anything, can we do. 

Now, Government only has a particular set of responses that we 
can undertake. The private sector, your industry, has a set of re- 
sponses that it can take, and part of this examination and the rea- 
son for this industry panel was to begin to discuss what were the 
proposals, what were the steps, what were the possibilities for us 
in terms of a response, and to be responsible and to protect our 

So, that is all I am putting to you and, again, I am not attempt- 
ing to be combative with this. 

Ms. Rosen. I understand. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Mr. Harleston, you started this. 

Mr. Harleston. I beg your pardon. [Laughter.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. With regard to this part, yes, please, 
Mr. Harleston. 

Mr. Harleston. Yes, thank you. I just wanted to round it out 
because I do think it is important as you are attempting to under- 
stand the nexus between the artist and the source of the expres- 


sion. Our artists, for example, do not just simply make music that 
is important and that in some cases is angry, have us distribute 
the music and believe they are doing their part. They routinely are 
involved in activities that put them back into the community, that 
attempt to demonstrate to the community that there are solutions, 
there are ways out. 

Examples: We routinely use a portion of every video shoot to 
record what we call PSA's, public service announcements, embody- 
ing the artist, obviously, voice and image. A current artist of ours 
named Domino has done safe sex, stay in school. Black History 
Month. EPMD, LL Cool J, Nice and Smooth and other artists of 
ours routinely do that as well. 

We as an entity assisted LL Cool J last summer in the founding 
of an organization called Camp Cool J, which is designed to iden- 
tify between 20 and 30 inner-city kids who compete on an academic 
basis for the right to spend 2 weeks, free of charge, at Camp Cool 
J in upstate New York. 

I frankly don't want to bore you with the list of involvements, 
but I did want to make the point, and I think it is important that 
it be understood, that the nexus between the artist, the message 
and the problem goes way beyond the music and extends, and this 
includes Def Jam as well, to efforts to rehabilitate the very envi- 
ronments which have created the difficulties that are embodied in 
the lyrics. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Senator Cohen? 

Senator Cohen. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Mr. McKeever, 
I came in in the very middle of your statement and didn't hear it 
in its entirety and, Ms. Rosen, I missed yours altogether, but I 
v/ould like to follow up on a theme which seems pretty consistently 
held by the panel. Before doing so, I just want to continue the line 
of thought expressed by Senator Moseley-Braun. 

I am familiar with the book business and books don't make it to 
the bestseller lists when they are produced by small, little inde- 
pendent publishers. There are exceptions, but they are rare excep- 
tions. Books make it to the top when you have big money behind 
you in the way of publishers and distributors. You can write all the 
grand novels and nonfiction you like. If you don't have the distribu- 
tion outlet, it doesn't happen. 

What Senator Moseley-Braun was saying is you can have these 
small, back-of-the-truck or back-of-the-car producers. Unless you 
have big money behind you, it is unlikely, with some exceptions, 
that you will make it to the top of the ladder. That is where either 
Columbia or Sony or any of the others come in. They have picked 
up on hip-hop or rap and really made some money at it, and this 
is really what we are talking about, going to the bank. That is 
what you are in the business for in the recording industry. 

I wanted to talk just a moment about the first amendment and 
ask each of you as to whether you feel there are any limitations 
upon the first amendment. I didn't detect any sentiment on that. 
Mr. Butterworth and Mr. McKeever as well seemed to think that 
whatever is out there can be turned into art, and as long as it ex- 
ists we shouldn't have any interference as long as we call it art. 
Am I oversimplifying that? 

Mr. McKeever. Yes, I think you are. 


Ms. Rosen. Yes. Of course, there are limits to the first amend- 

Senator Cohen. What are the Umits in your mind, Ms. Rosen? 

Ms. Rosen. The limits are the limits that the Supreme Court has 
already determined. There are obscenity standards. There are 
standards that apply to minors. You know, the issue with music, 
however, that is a tough one for us is that there have never been 
those standards that have been upheld with respect to music. The 
case that you mentioned, "As Nasty As They Wanna Be," was be- 
fore a court last year and a court determined — I think Dr. Tucker 
referenced this earlier — a lower court decided that this was ob- 
scene. It was overturned by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 
and the circuit court was upheld by the Supreme Court. 

So we are not saying that there aren't limits to the first amend- 
ment. There are. We are just saying that it is awfully difficult in 
the case of music to apply them in a reasonable way without deal- 
ing with access. 

Senator Cohen. Most of you have indicated art is simply imita- 
tive of life. I suppose you could go down the list. Murder is part 
of life, rape is part of life, pedophilia is part of life. Should we in 
any way glorify that because it is out there? 

Ms. Rosen. I don't ask you to condemn or applaud any particular 
artist's activities. I think Luther Campbell's records are offensive 
and I think they are disgusting and I wouldn't buy them, but I 
don't think that is the issue. Again, it goes back to the idea of this 
community of companies and artists is not a single community. 

Senator Cohen. Mr. McKeever, I am told that I mischaracterized 
your testimony, that you did express a belief that there should be 
some restrictions. 

Mr. McKeever. Yes. 

Senator Cohen. Would you amplify that for me so I will know 
what you have in mind? 

Mr. McKeever. What I basically said was that I sort of follow 
what Hilary Rosen just said on the characterization and who 
makes the characterization, and I think that is a very dangerous 
arena. However, I said the things that we can see and talk about 
as objectionable — I think there are several examples, whether it is 
in music, whether it is on TV, whether it is on cable, whether it 
is in video games, or whatever. My basic statement was that all 
material is not appropriate for all ages. 

Senator COHEN. Who makes the decisions? What we would like 
to know is when something like "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" and 
the one particular lyric on the chart which has now been covered 
up as being unfit for human consumption as far as the television 
cameras are concerned — who makes the decisions as to whether 
that is art, metaphor, poetic inspiration? Who makes those kinds 
of decisions, at what level? Mr. Harleston, perhaps you could tell 

Mr. Harleston. I think a couple of bodies or entities or individ- 
uals. As to whether or not it is sufficiently obscene to prohibit its 
sale, I think a competent court of law makes that decision. As to 
whether it is 

Senator Cohen. The industry makes no such screening? 


Mr. Harleston. Let me finish and then I will return to your spe- 
cific questions. 

Senator Cohen. I am sorry. Go ahead. 

Mr. Harleston. As to whether it is so offensive to be inappropri- 
ate to a minor, for example, I think very clearly a parent makes 
that decision and is guided by the parental advisory explicit lyrics 

Senator COHEN. Do you think the parents are going in and buy- 
ing the tapes in the stores? 

Mr. Harleston. I would hope that parents are sufficiently in- 
volved in their kids' lives that they do know what kind of music 
they are listening to and they are involved in the selections. I think 
that kind of relationship would not only obviate the issues before 
us today, but might also give some insight to parents into the kinds 
of issues that kids are focusing on both in terms of listening and 
making the music. 

Candidly, I think that the engagement at that point would be an 
engagement about the background, underlying issues and less 
about the what have been referred to as symptomatic issues such 
as the lyrics. 

Ms. Rosen. Let me also address, if I might, that issue. Senator, 
because 6-year-olds don't buy records. 

Senator COHEN. Do 6-year-olds listen to records? 

Ms. Rosen. People talking earlier about 6-year-olds buying 
records — that just is not the case. 

Senator Cohen. We have 13-year-olds killing people. 

Ms. Rosen. Thirteen-year-olds do buy records, and I think that 
the issue for retailers as they have gone into this has been that 
there have been significant retailer attempts, and many retailers 
do prohibit the sale of stickered recordings to minors. 

You see by the statement that I think was submitted for the 
record by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, 
which is the retailers trade group, that there has been in many 
cases just as much community outcry by those parents who have 
been offended by restrictive sales policies, unfortunately, as there 
have been by those who have wanted them. I think that the key 
piece for us to understand is that the parental advisory logo is not 
going to replace any activity outside the home. 

The other thing the industry has done on top of the retailer out- 
reach is that record companies and retailers take back every single 
record now that any parent who objects to what their kids have 
brought home back into the store. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Let me interject. One of the issues 
that I have — and this is not in direct response to the last statement 
you just made, Ms. Rosen. What I am hearing is a lot of denial and 
finger-pointing. I mean, it is society's fault, it is the kids' fault. Mr. 
Butterworth, you say the Congress doesn't care about the kids. We 
wouldn't be sitting here all day if we didn't care about the kids. I 
mean, that is the fact of the matter. 

The Congress shouldn't do anything. Government doesn't have a 
role here to regulate. The industry is not going to regulate. We are 
going to suggest to record companies that they make individual de- 
cisions about this, but the record companies themselves have li- 
cense to decide. The industry as a whole, the people who make 


money from this — you know, in the big picture, macroeconomics — 
don't have a role to play. It is up to the individual label. 

With regard to the stores, the RIAA was on record as saying that 
you didn't want the stores to decide. When Music Land, which is 
a large retail record store, stated they would keep a list of the most 
explicit albums and would not sell those products to people under 
18 years old, RIAA fired back a response that said: 

Such a list is not in keeping with the RIAA's idea of how the labeling system 
should work. The system was not designated for store managers to decide what gets 

Ms. Rosen. We did say that 2 years ago and we have changed. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Oh, good. Well, can we see what the 
change is? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, the change is that we no longer have that com- 
munication with retailers; in fact, just the opposite. We have had 
the liberal returns policies. We have had the communications with 
retailers about trying to be more understanding when they are 
more responsive with their communities, and I think that you can 
talk to the 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Would you provide that information to 
this committee? 

Ms. Rosen. Sure, and the retailers association will do that as 

Senator Moseley-Braun. And the second 

Ms. Rosen. Could I just address the head-in-the-sand issue be- 
cause I think it is really important? 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Go ahead. 

Ms. Rosen. We are not sticking our head in the sand. We are not 
sa3dng that there isn't music that is unsettling and offensive and 
that there isn't music that might hurt kids who are 10 years old 
just as much as, you know, the evening news or any other violent 
act would. I think what we are saying is that it is extraordinarily 
difficult to take what we get presented with and to suggest some- 
how that there is a solution when I am not even sure that we have 
really identified the issues. 

So the industry is trying to take some positive steps. We are 
more actively monitoring the parental advisory logo. In fact, 2 
weeks ago at Cardiss Collins' hearing in the House we were ad- 
vised of two records that should have been stickered by any reason- 
able standard and were not. They didn't happen to be RIAA mem- 
ber companies, but we sent a letter to those companies and to 
every single one of the companies we have any affiliation with re- 
minding them of the appropriate use of the parental advisory logo. 

Senator Cohen. Mr. Butterworth, I had a copy of some lyrics dis- 
tributed. Have you had a chance to read them? 

Mr. Butterworth. I have had a chance to read them. 

Senator COHEN. Would you feel comfortable in reciting them for 
the public here today? 

Mr. Butterworth. I would prefer not to. 

Senator Cohen. Why is that? 

Mr. Butterworth. I find them inappropriate for this forum. I 
don't know who is watching on television. There may be young chil- 
dren for whom this kind of sexual imagery is not appropriate and 
I am not going to make that decision for those young people, as I 


believe this body, this Government, ought not to make the decision 
about what is and what is not appropriate. I don't think young peo- 
ple elected anyone to make decisions about what they should hear 
and what they shouldn't hear. 

Senator Cohen. Ms. Rosen, we are not looking for solutions. We 
are questioning whether there are any standards left at all within 
the industry, or do you just say, look, take it to court. If we get 
to the Supreme Court and they rule against us, so be it, we will 
take it off? But absent that 

Ms. Rosen. The marketplace really has a lot more standards 
than you give it credit for. Again, to go back to the Luther Camp- 
bell example — and Steve, I think, can respond to this as well — he 
actually does not have a major record label contract an3rmore. His 
records are not really selling. People really know whether this 
music means something and speaks to issues or whether it doesn't. 
Things that speak to kids, kids buy. Things that don't speak to 
kids, they don't buy. 

Again, I go back to this other issue, and I don't want to denigrate 
rap as a category, but as an overall percentage of the music market 
rap is going down. Whitney Houston sells more records than Snoop 
Doggy Dog. Now, why wouldn't we say that kids are taking the 
Whitney Houston example and embracing it and loving it when the 
industry spends far more money promoting Whitney Houston than 
they do promoting Snoop Doggy Dog? I think the answer is some- 
thing else is drawing those kids to that music, and that is the only 
thing that we are suggesting that they pay attention to, is that the 
context of the industry is much broader and much more sensitive 

Senator COHEN. I come back to the point that Senator Moseley- 
Braun made before. We are not searching for fault. I think it was 
Ms. Britt in the Post article who said it may not be our fault, but 
it is our funeral, meaning those who live within the inner cities for 
the most part are the ones who are doing the dying. 

I raised in my opening comments the question about Mr. 
Farrakhan, and the reason I raised it is because he and others 
have said some pretty provocative things and it has enraged a 
number of people. It has been directed at a number of people; it 
has been directed outward. It has been directed towards Catholics, 
the Pope. It has been directed toward Jews. It has been directed 
toward homosexuals and others, but it is a message not of hope, 
but one of hate in many cases. 

If you could put some of the message in the form of lyrics and 
make it a rap song, which wouldn't be hard to do, and if there is 
a market out there for it, would a major recording company be un- 
interested? Apparently, according to Time, there are people who 
are listening and believing some of what they say, if not all of what 
they say. Would that be something that would be appropriate to 
get out into the mainstream? Would we be interested in doing that? 
I suspect not, and it seems to me I suspect not because it is hitting 
the types of people or groups who would come down pretty heavy 
and say, wait a minute, that is unacceptable. 

But when you are talking about degrading black women, as some 
of these songs do, no one is raising much objections. They are say- 
ing, that is just sort of the way it is, that is the value, that is what 



they are singing and it is OK. Really, the question is, is it OK. Is 
this something that you really feel we ought to be promoting? 

Mr. McKeever. I think that that is, again, an individual decision 
because just as you are able to characterize Farrakhan's words, 
and you may be in the majority, that message in someone's ears 
in prison or 

Senator Cohen. I agree. It may seem like hate to me and it 
might seem like hope to somebody else. The question I have is 
would the recording industry or those in the publishing business 
start to promote it because there is a marketplace out there of peo- 
ple who would fmd hope in it. I dare say that there are enough dif- 
ferent elements in our society to say, no, that it is not acceptable 
to take on the Pope, that it is not acceptable to attack an entire 
group, and they would come down heavy on this. 

Mr. McKeever. I agree. I think what the problem is there is if 
Minister Farrakhan wanted to get a book deal, he would have no 
problem in finding a publisher in the industry that you are familiar 
with to express his views. I wasn't here really to even talk on the 
first amendment issue, but I feel it is very important that all views 
should have their forum. That, again, is a decision. If you sort of 
characterize it as is this something we ought to do, I think the 
marketplace really — using that example, whether Farrakhan 
should be able to put a book out, I don't think that there should 
be anybody that says, no, he cannot say the things that he believes, 
the messages he wants to get out. That is what is dangerous to me. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I think the problem here — and, again, 
I am trying to find places for consensus. I mean, I think that rath- 
er than having controversy, somewhere there is a ground here 
where we can agree on some steps to be taken that will represent 
many of the views that have been expressed here today. 

Let me start off" in terms of Mr. Butterworth's statement. When 
you talk about kids, there is a distinction between — when you said 
the grown-ups, that makes me a grown-up. I don't know if that 
makes you a kid or not, but whatever, there is a difference between 
the two of us and somebody who is 11 or 12. Let us start with that. 

With regard to young children, it seems to me to be facile to take 
the first amendment and use that as the screen behind which they 
get exploited, and it is the exploitation of young children that 
brings us to this hearing today. With regard to that, I have got to 
believe that reasonable people can find some basis for consensus. 
We have to be able to find some way that we can protect our chil- 
dren because otherwise what you are begging and asking for is we 
are going to hold up the specter of the first amendment and we are 
going to dare you in the Congress to take some steps in this regard 
because we in the industry are not prepared to do it ourselves. So 
when you talk about responsibility, I think that there has got to 
be a balance and that the private sector has as much obligation to 
be responsible as anyone else. 

Mr. McKeever. I think if you took what I was just saying in re- 
sponse to Senator Cohen, it may have been misinterpreted. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. I am sorry, then. 

Mr. McKeever. Really, I do feel that all material is not appro- 
priate for all ages. I think there should be a distinction. 


Senator Moseley-Braun. Is there a rating by age by this indus- 

Mr. McKeever. No, but 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Is there a reason why there is no rat- 
ing by age? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I think there are several reasons, and I guess 
it gets to the issue I was just going to say. You know, I am trying 
to be responsive and I understand your good motives, but maybe 
I could try and come up with a practical example. Queen Latifah 
maybe would be a good example. If you have a rating system based 
on dirty words, you are somehow suggesting that dirty words are 
bad images and clean words are good images. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. It is not that simplistic, Ms. Rosen. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I agree with you. It is not that simplistic and 
so our problem is how you determine the subjective nature. Queen 
Latifah uses the word — I can say this; it has been said today — uses 
the words "bitch" and "ho" a lot in her music, but she is very posi- 
tive and empowering and feminist about the use of those words. So 
what do you do with that? Do you make that an x-rated record? I 
am being serious. How would you deal with that? 

Senator Moseley-Braun. But just as you make decisions about 
parental advisory on explicit lyrics and the movie industry makes 
decisions about what is an X versus a XX versus an R versus a 
whatever, those decisions — again, if they are not made by the in- 
dustry, then you invite them to be made by someone else. 

Ms. Rosen. It is a very fair comparison, and I think what we 
have confronted was that if you make those decisions on the basis 
of we think that there is something in this record that you should 
really take an extra close look at, we think it still is good music, 
but we think that parents and guardians and adults should pay at- 
tention if kids listen to this, that is a very different decision to 
make than to say we don't believe that anybody under 18 should 
have access to this. 

I think music ends up being so lyrical and more subjective and 
more image-connoting, it is extraordinarily difficult. I spend a lot 
of time with the Motion Picture Association and their ratings 
boards and they literally have a graph. So if you have 3 body parts 
here and 4 words here within 15 minutes here, it is just extraor- 
dinarily difficult to come down to that kind of a tactical place with 
music, which is so subjective. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. But, again, the parent can buy that 
music for their 10-year-old if they want to. It seems to me not ask- 
ing a whole lot for the industry to put something on there that says 
anybody under 18 should not be encouraged to 

Ms. Rosen. That is what we do. That is what the logo is in- 
tended to do. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Again, this is not to be a dialogue be- 
tween the two of us, and we have another panel. Let me thank you 
all very much for your testimony and for your contribution. Thank 
you, and we will go to the last panel. 

Let me call Errol James, Laura Murphy Lee, Dionne Warwick, 
Keith Ridley and Wallace Bradley to the witness table. I have to 
warn you, because all of the previous speakers took more than 
their 5 minutes, we have the superintendent ready to run us out 


of here. So we are going to have to really speed along, unfortu- 
nately, with the last panel. One of the problems with having an in- 
teresting subject is that everybody has something to say and a lot 
to say about it, but let us try to be as prompt with this as we can. 

In the interests of quasi-Congressional courtesy, I am going to 
call Ms. Warwick, actually, first, to start this panel. I want to 
thank each of you for participating, and I am certain we will get 
a chance to hear from each of you, but just to give you warning 
that we really have to be on a fast track this time around. 

Ms. Warwick? 



Ms. Warwick. Thank you to all who are assembled here today 
for this most important hearing of testimony regarding the effect 
of a recorded form of communication called gangster rap. I must 
say how pleased how I am to be able to be with you to personally 
deliver this passionate concern that I have about this subject and 
to personally say thank you to the Honorable Senator Moseley- 
Braun, who has bravely given me and others the opportunity to be 
able to express our concern or lack of concern. 

As a single parent, an African American woman, a recording art- 
ist for the last 30 years, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a girl friend 
and one of the co-chairs of the National Political Congress of Blaclc 
Women, Incorporated, Entertainment Committee, I feel that with 
the graphic and the continued exposure to violence, sexual activi- 
ties usually reserved and expressed in the privacy of our bedrooms 
and the appalling, abusive use of words in description of women, 
specifically African American women, via a medium that has long 
been regarded as the easiest way to get a message across, record- 
ings, and now with the additional help of video used to enhance 
these recorded messages, I am compelled to ask those who supply 
these recordings and videos what and how do you think the moth- 
ers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, wives, girl friends of these pro- 
viders of gangster rap products feel each time any one of these re- 
cordings are played or videos shown depicting and expounding total 
disrespect and disregard for the African American woman, specifi- 
cally, and women generally. 

I am also wondering as I sat and thought how to begin, and I 
guess it is by asking why do we have to give testimony defending 
the most responsible moral attitude by finally protesting to the dig- 
nifying of pornography and obscenity in its highest and most 
graphic form when, to my understanding, it is against one of the 
most misused amendments, that being the first amendment, when, 
in fact, we are here to regulate strenuously as we do all other por- 
nographic visual, audio materials. However, if testimony is to be 


given by me, that is what we will do. We will testify, and I can, 
and most certainly will speak for myself. 

I personally am hurt, I am angered, I am disappointed, and will 
no longer sit passively allowing this degradation to be continued by 
our children. In short, I am tired and I have had enough. When 
will responsibility be demanded to deny the glorification and pro- 
motion of violence with guns, knives, the use of drugs, denigration 
and defamation of women, and now the explicit pornographic art 
work accompanying these recordings? When will responsibility be 
demanded by all to deny the continuing images that degrade our 
dignity, insult our families, stunt the emotions of our children, and 
most importantly our communities? 

If the continuance of negative exposure by a medium that is 
showing distorted look at images of male-female relationships, the 
constant undermining of our family stability, encouragement of vio- 
lence, abuse and sexism is acceptable and it is acceptable as a be- 
havior in perpetuating the cycle of low self-esteem of our youth, ex- 
pressly African American youth, we then must be able to see and 
feel the effect of this gangster rap. 

The rise in murders, abuse, batterings, teen prostitution, teen 
pregnancy and teen suicide, folks, is a reality. An unconscionable 
burden has been placed on our children. It has caused their respect 
of each other to all but vanish. The value of life is all but negated, 
and we as elders or grown-ups who are giving opportunity of ex- 
pression to our children must now be courageous enough to take 
that responsibility to show how we celebrate the Constitution, the 
free market system, the respect of the first amendment. 

Obscenity in any form has never been acceptable and has been 
always known as an exception to freedom of speech. In 1992, the 
Canadian Supreme Court ruled that it was more important to ban 
speech that is dehumanizing to women than to protect free speech. 
We cannot continue to allow what ends up on records or television 
and movie screens to be the representation of what is thought to 
be what we want to see. We cannot continue for the sake of record 
sales and ratings to lead our children down a one-way street. 

We have got to let all of our children know that "Menace II Soci- 
ety" and "Boyz 'N the Hood" are not the totality of our experience 
as African Americans. We have got to let them know that the 
human drama and struggle in tales of love and tragedy and por- 
trayals are available for them to learn of the royalty and pride that 
their African lineage comes from. We all know loving and nurtur- 
ing families and neighbors. Why, then, is it a depiction that our 
lives are worse than dysfunctional? 

All of us now have got to take the steps to correct this misconcep- 
tion that is being dished up to our children and all mankind being 
accosted. We cannot continue to allow our children to prepay their 
funerals. We must take seriously that old cliche, our children are 
our future. We must again invest in our youth. 

I applaud Dr. C. Delores Tucker for taking the initiative to sup- 
port and to provide insight into the process of reclaiming our youth, 
and in so doing we also reclaim our communities and our cultural 
heritage. I recognize this to be an enormous undertaking. However, 
all the struggles that I, for one, have been a part of for the right 
to be respected and regarded as an equal human being and not to 


be demoralized by anyone — I am willing to be one of the threads 
that will provide the tapestry that has to be woven depicting the 
love and full respect that we all deserve unconditionally. 

I would also like to take the time to let you know that Ms. Rosen 
decided that Whitney Houston's promotional dollars are a lot larger 
than those given to promote rap. I totally disagree with her 100 
percent. I think that when the Honorable Maxine Waters, who hap- 
pens to also be my girl friend, took the time to read lyrics written 
by Snoop Doggy Doggy — whatever his name is — and to glorify his 
position, reading about tears and sky and gloominess, she should 
have gone further to continue to recite the words that came out of 
the same little boy's mouth, his mind and his heart, calling women 
bitches, calling women hoes. The little boy can't even spell ho; he 
can't spell gangster. He should be in school. 

I am really very, very passionate about this. I think that we as 
human beings, but more specifically as parents — and our record 
companies have people in those high positions who are parents — 
should be a little more cognizant and a little more careful about 
the diet that we are feeding to our children collectively and individ- 

When it comes to making those decisions, we all know who 
makes the decisions. Head honcho makes decisions. BMG happens 
to be on that list. BMG happens to be the parent company of the 
recording company I record for, and I think that we all know who 
makes those decisions. I certainly do, as does everyone who was sit- 
ting on the panel before me knows. 

We have got to take a strong stand. Of course, we are careful 
about the first amendment, but we have to understand the first 
amendment was not intended to promote obscenity and abusive- 
ness or any of the filth that we are now subjected to. 

A young lady named Tyreen Wilson, who happens to be 20 years 
old, appeared at the National Rainbow Coalition and said these 
words about a commitment to her. Since then, she has come to 
work for the National Political Congress of Black Women and did 
research for the lyrics you have heard here today. Our children can 
speak for themselves quite succinctly, and that is the reason for 
this videotape. And if you can allow 1 minute, you will hear a 
young woman speaking for herself and those of her age group. 

[Videotape shown.] 

Ms. Warwick. Thank you. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. That is powerful. Thank you very 
much, Ms. Warwick. 

We will go now to Ms. Lee. 


Ms. Lee. Thank you. Senator Braun. I am Laura Murphy Lee 
and I am Director of the Washington Bureau of the American Civil 
Liberties Union. We have about 300,000 members nationwide in 
every State. 

The ACLU has consistently opposed efforts that would result in 
punishment for the expression of thoughts, opinions or beliefs, in- 
cluding expression with which we vigorously disagree, such as the 
advocacy of violence against women, racial supremacy, or religious 


Providing hateful and demeaning speech with constitutional pro- 
tection is not the same as saying that these expressions are socially 
acceptable. They are not and should not be treated with impotent 
sighs of exasperation. Instead, the very same constitutional protec- 
tions that permit the utterance of hateful remarks provide the 
means by which they can be most usefully combatted. 

The answer to racists, misogynists and those who are addicted 
to violence is more speech, speech that provides opposing points of 
view. The answer is not censorship. The answer is in educating the 
consumers, not imploring legislators to 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Hold on, Ms. Lee. I thought we made 
clear some time ago that we are not here today to talk about cen- 
sorship in the context of adults having an opportunity to choose 
what they want to hear. 

Ms. Lee. No, Madam Senator. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. We are specifically focusing in on 
whether the constitutional protections to which you refer extend to 
the marginal gangster rap, the violence and the like being sold to 

Ms. Lee. I respectfully understand the scope of these hearings. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. OK. 

Ms. Lee. However, I do realize that there are people here who 
would call upon you to advocate censorship. I understand that is 
not your intention, but I am talking to them as well as to you. 

These legislators, for political reasons, will attempt to pick on the 
bad boy or bad girl of the moment, and I am not talking about you. 
Senator Braun. The role of the legislator is not imposing content- 
based rating standards. The role of legislative bodies is to prevent 
discriminatory acts, not speech, acts which in the long run are far 
more dangerous. 

In Bridges v. California the Supreme Court noted it is a prized 
American privilege to speak one's mind, although not always with 
perfect good taste. Through the Constitution, and in particular the 
first amendment, we simply do not give government the authority 
to decide what we can and cannot say, for it is a power that cannot 
be exercised benignly. Inevitably, the power to stop speech would 
lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts or 
dominant political or community groups. 

As a result, in public debate our own citizens must tolerate in- 
sulting and even outrageous speech in order to provide adequate 
breathing space to the freedoms protected by the first amendment. 
When speech is restricted, it will always serve the purposes of 
those in power. A law of any kind is but a manifestation of political 
power. It represents the status quo of the power wielders who are 
always loathe to give up the power to those who hold another view- 

The guarantee of free speech permits everyone who holds dif- 
ferent viewpoints to express them and to attempt to win support 
among the citizenry. If the right of free expression is not permitted, 
if those who currently hold power suppress those views, they leave 
dissenters with no other option than violence or revolution. Thus, 
the first amendment also has an important safety valve function, 
allowing the advocacy of ideas to see if people will support them 
as an alternative to violence. When those ideas are at odds with 


societal values, when they consist of detestable and deplorable no- 
tions that are inconsistent with a free and equal society, permitting 
that speech allows society to recognize that a problem exists, as 
well as the depth of that problem. 

In other words, speech acts as an early warning system to dan- 
gers lurking below the surface. When we hear the words, only then 
can society attempt to address the issues raised by using both edu- 
cation and other corrective measures. On the other hand, if speech 
that identifies a problem is suppressed, code words will replace 
those that have been banished and, in response, the regime of cen- 
sorship will grow. The result will be an anger and resentment that 
is guaranteed to fester and then erupt in a more virulent and less 
controllable form. 

I would remind my colleagues that there was a reason slaves 
were prevented from learning how to read and write. In some areas 
of the South, drum-playing was prohibited. Slaves who could nei- 
ther read nor play drums resorted to spirituals that contained code 
words as to how to rebel and when the next escape effort was afoot. 

When there is fear that words may be interpreted as offending 
someone and will result in sanctions, when there is suspicion that 
certain questions cannot be asked because penalties may follow, 
creative expression cannot flourish and the robust, uninhibited de- 
bate like the one we are having here today cannot occur. Even Jus- 
tice Thurgood Marshall recognized this danger when he wrote that 
our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving 
government the power to control men's minds. 

Even though the ACLU is most concerned about potential gov- 
ernment action in this arena, I must also raise our concern about 
the relationship that private censorship organizations are develop- 
ing with local elected officials. The collusion that is going on most 
often between conservative Christian and radical right groups and 
local government is disturbing. Surely, these activists will be de- 
lighted by the actions of opponents of gangster rap. Let me give 
you a few examples. 

A group of parents and media specialists in Duval County, FL, 
have determined that the classic Brothers Grim fairy tale is too 
violent for its audience. After all, the story features a hunter kill- 
ing a wild boar. They also sought to ban "Snow White" because the 
wicked witch ordered Snow White's heart torn out. These stories 
were attacked, as well as Stephen King novels, as well as the work 
of acclaimed African American poet Nicky Giovanni. As a result of 
their efforts, librarians felt forced to take these books off the 
shelves. Students have to first get parental permission to get access 
to these and over 50 other books that were removed. 

In Nebraska a private group, Omaha for Decency, conducted a 
private sting operation against nine music stores. With the help of 
a city council member, they tried to stop sales of 2 Live Crew's 
album "Sports Weekend." While they were not entirely successful, 
the mere threat of prosecution will end up making some merchants 
reluctant to sell any rap music that has a bit of controversy, hurt- 
ing the good rap artists as well as the bad. 

In Frederick County, MD, a painting that was a satirical takeoff 
of a Rubens sketch depicting a nude or semi-nude George Bush, 
General George Schwartzkopf, a nude Dolly Parton and a semi- 


nude Jesse Helms caused the Maryland State Legislature not to go 
forward with a bill authorizing a $500,000 bond issue for a new 
building for the arts center. One delegate called the satirical work 
pornography, and I think the Senator will recall what happened 
with a painting of former Mayor Harold Washington that caused 
similar controversy in Chicago. 

Last year, K-Mart was a target for the American Family Asso- 
ciation. Reverend Donald Wildman, the group's founder, announced 
that K-Mart was targeted because it was owned by Walden Books. 
Because Walden books sold Victorian and neo-Victorian erotica, the 
boycott ended up having these books, as well as books on homo- 
sexuality. Playboy Magazine and Penthouse, removed. 

Two years ago, Iran contra figure and now U.S. Senate candidate 
Oliver North worked with his advocacy group. Freedom Alliance, to 
encourage State governments to prosecute media conglomerate 
Time Warner for distributing Ice T's song "Cop Killer." Even after 
Ice T agreed to withdraw his song from the marketplace, North 
pressed prosecutors and police groups to initiate criminal or civil 
actions against the singer and Time Warner. Although North was 
unsuccessful in getting prosecutions, he was successful in stirring 
up racial hatred and intolerance. 

You see, some people just want artists to be more loving and less 
hateful. Others want to go to the wall and have them serve hard 
time. I am surprised that efforts to ban Shakespeare are not next 
because in "Henry VI" he writes, "The first thing we do, let's kill 
all the lawyers." Wasn't Shakespeare glorifying murder? 

I just might add that 2 days ago on the cover of USA Today, 
there was a notice about an Alice Walker ban. I will quote from the 

A short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was pulled from a 
California State 10th grade English test after a Christian group called it 
antireUgious. The story, Rosa Lily,' was removed by State officials rather than of- 
fend the Traditional Values Coalition. The story is about a rural woman who ques- 
tions marriage and rehgion. 

In conclusion, there are a wide variety of constitutionally pro- 
tected forms of protest available to those who are concerned about 
music lyrics and album cover art. I would be happy to discuss these 
lawful forms of protest with the committee and the members of the 

Thank you very much, Senator Braun. 

[The prepared statement of Ms. Lee and Mr. Peck follows:] 

Statement of Laura Murphy Lee and Robert S. Peck on Behalf of the ACLU 

Washington Office 

Government-sponsored or assisted efforts aimed at offensive lyrics in rap music 
strike at the heart of constitutionally protected liberty of expression. No one doubts 
that the Constitution forbids government from restricting access to or labeling books 
that are sold in the mainstream; music receives precisely the same constitutional 

As with all classical First Amendment disputes, the controversy over gangsta rap 
is over what some people deem to be dangerous ideas. Yet, above all else, the First 
Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of 
its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. Police Department v. Mosley, 
408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972). As Justice Robert Jackson wrote, the First Amendment is 
designed to "foreclose public authority from assuming a guardianship of the pubUc 
mind" and from "protect[ing] the public against false doctrine." Thomas v. Collins, 
323 U.S. 516, 545 (1945)( Jackson, J., concurring). This is true even when the con- 


cem is over children who may not have developed the critical thinking skills that 
allow them to reject or discount certain messages. In striking down a ban on nudity 
in drive-in theaters visible from the street, the Supreme Court noted that "[sjpeech 
that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate prescription 
cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legisla- 
tive body thinks unsuitable for them." Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 
205, 213-14. 


The constitutional protection afforded freedom of speech provides broad protection 
to a wide array of expressions, as well as to forms of communication. "Entertain- 
ment, as well as political and ideological speech, is protected; motion pictures, pro- 
grams broadcast by radio and television, and live entertainment, such as musical 
and dramatic works, fall within the First Amendment guarantee." Schad v. Borough 
of Mount Ephraim, 452 U.S. 61, 65 (1985)(citations omitted). The reason for protect- 
ing such a diverse set of expressive forms is obvious. Entertainment has long been 
thought to be a means by which social and political commentary is expressed. Musi- 
cal forms certednly fit within this tradition, promoting both patriotism and protest, 
celebration of the political or social system and biting criticism, and desirable and 
undesirable human interaction. Much of musical expression captures the imagina- 
tion, hopes and dreams of people with far greater urgency and intensity than what 
passes for political oratory. 


Gangsta rap certainly promotes ideas about the society in which we live. These 
ideas may be anti-social, misogynist, and conceived in a desire for commercial gain, 
but these are not reasons to treat them of lesser First Amendment import. As the 
Court has observed, "the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate 
speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others." City 
Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 804 (1984). Laws are 
presumptively unconstitutional if "government has adopted a regulation of speech 
because of disagreement with the message it conveys. 

If it were otherwise, if government had the power to stamp out or make more dif- 
ficult the expression of views it deemed anti-social, the majority would always have 
a veto power over the expression of minority views. Every major protest movement, 
whether promoting civil rights, workers' rights, or peace, started out as something 
society viewed as extremist and a threat to the very foundations of our society. Yet, 
the protections of the Constitution permitted these views to be expressed, sometimes 
achieving progress that cause when it won over enough adherents to its views and 
sometimes engendering a response that caused rejection of that movement. This is 
how our system of free expression is supposed to work. 

The Supreme Court's decisions against interfering with speech because of the 
ideas they promote are so comprehensive that it extends to speech that advocates 
violation of the law. The First Amendment even protects speech that advocates "use 
of force or violence." NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886, 927 (1982). 
It is only when "such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless 
action and is likely to incite or produce such action" that civil or criminal liability 
may attach. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969) (per curiam). The Court, 
in that case, went on to state that "[a] statute which fails to draw this distinction 
impermissibly intrudes upon the freedoms guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth 
Amendments. It sweeps within its condemnation speech which our Constitution has 
immunized from government control." Id. at 448. Even where song lyrics are 
thought to advocate or encourage minors to commit suicide, they enjoy full constitu- 
tional protection. Waller v. Osbourne, No. CIV 88-111 (M.D. Ga. May 6, 1991). 
Nothing in gangsta rap satisfies the Brandenburg Court's incitement standard. 


The First Amendment represents a profound national commitment to "uninhib- 
ited, robust and wide-open discussion that "may well include vehement, caustic, 
and sometimes unpleasantly sharp" speech. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 
U.S. 254, 270 (1964). Our Constitution commands that "[g]overnment may not pro- 
hibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive 
or disagreeable." Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414 (1989). It remains bedrock 
First Ainendment principle that one is free "to speak one's mind, [even if] not al- 
ways with perfect good taste." Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252 270 (1941). 


The case of Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) is dispositive. In this case, 
a man was arrested at a courthouse for wearing a jacket emblazoned with an exple- 
tive, reflecting his opinion of the military draft. The Supreme Court threw out his 
conviction as a violation of the First Alhendment. The Court observed that: 

Surely the State has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where 
it is grsimmatically palatable to the most squeamish among us. Yet no read- 
ily ascertainable general principle exists for stopping short of that result 
were we to affirm the judgment below. For, while the particular four-letter 
word being litigated here is perhaps more distasteful than most others of 
its genre, it is nevertheless often true that one man's vulgarity is another's 
l5rric. Indeed, we think it is Isirgely because governmental officials cannot 
make principled distinctions in this area that the Constitution leaves mat- 
ters of taste and style largely to the individual. 

Id. at 25 (emphasis added). 

Thus, the general rule remains that "so long as the nieans are peaceful, the com- 
munication need iiot meet standards of acceptability." Organization for a Better Aus- 
tin V. Keefe, 402 U.S. 415, 419 (1971). 


Some advocates of government action to restrict gangsta rap have called them ob- 
scene and suggested that this might permit federal regulation. Such suggestions 
cannot be reconciled with First Amendment jurisprudence. Obscenity, wWch the 
Court has said is largely outside the boundaries of First Amendment protection, is 
a very narrow and circumscribed area of communication. Because obscenity is easily 
confused with protected sexual expression, the Supreme Court has required sub- 
stantial specificity in anti -obscenity statutes in order to provide sufficient notice of 
what is actually being proscribed. 

To be obscene under the prevailing test. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 24 
(1973), the trier of fact must determihe that: 

1. The average person, applying contemporary community standards 
would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient inter- 

2. The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sefbal con- 
duct specifically defined by the applicable law; and 

3. The work, taken as a whole, l^icks serious literary, artistic, political, 
or scientific value. 

In a recent case involving 2 Live Crew's album, "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the rap record could 
not be regarded as obscene. Though the Broward County sheriffs office failed to 
meet its burden under Miller, the court observed that 'Tjecause music possesses in- 
herent artistic value, no work of music alone may be declared obscene." Luke 
Records. Inc. v. Navarro, 960 F.2d 134, 135 (11th Cir.), cert, denied, 113 S.Ct 659 
(1992). Thus, musical compositions, whether they consist of instrumentation alone 
or are accompanied by lyrics (the issue in Luke Records), are unlikely to ever satisfy 
the third part of the Miller obscenity test. 

Moreover, the genesis of curreht congressional interest in gangsta rap is not over 
its explicit sexual content but over its view of women. The Supreme Court has 
steadfastly refused to allow legislation intended to prohibit obscenity from being 
used against ideas. 

The selninal case for this proposition is Kingsley Pictures Corp. v. Board of Re- 
gents, 360 U.S. 684 (1959). In the 1950's, New York required that motion pictures 
receive licenses before they could be exhibited in theaters. The state denied such 
a license to the movie Lady Chatterly's Lover under a state obscenity law, because 
it favorably portrayed an adulterous relationship. The Court held that "[wjhat New 
York has done, therefore is to prevent the exhibition of a motion picture because 
that picture advocates an idea — that adultery under certain circumstances may be 
proper behavior. Yet the First Amendment's basic guarantee is of freedom to advo- 
cate ideas. The State, quite simply, has thus struck at the very heart of constitu- 
tionally protected liberty." Id. at 688. 

A concern for youth does not change the constitutional equation. "Speech * * ♦ 
cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legisla- 
tive body thinks unsuitable for them. In most circumstances, the values protected 
by the First Amendment are no less applicable when government seeks to control 
the flow of information to minors." Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 
213-14 (1975)( citations and footnote omitted). 


Attempts to carve out an obscenity-like First Amendment exception for expression 
that subordinates or dehumanizes women have similarly been rejected by the 
courts. In declaring unconstitutional an ordinance aimed at providing legal remedies 
against "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women, whether in pictures 
or in words," the Seventh Circuit, affirmed by the Supreme Court, held this to be 
an attempt to suppress certain ideas, however pernicious. American Booksellers 
Ass'n V. Hudnut, 111 F.2d 323, 330 (7th Cir. 1985), affd mem., Alb U.S. 1001 
(1986). In that case, the court noted that much of classical literature, including 
Homer's Iliad, W.B. Yeat's poem "Leda and the Swan," and James Joyce's Ulysses, 
to name a few, contains depictions of women as submissive objects for conquest and 
domination. Yet, a free society cannot exist where people can be made to pay a pen- 
alty for holding objectionable opinions. "One of the things that separates our society 
from [that of totalitarian governments] is our absolute right to propagate opinions 
that the government finds wrong or even hateful." Id. at 328. The court went on 
to state: 

Racial bigotry, anti-semitism, violence on television, reporters' biases — 
these and many more influence the culture and shape our socialization. 
None is directly answerable by more speech, unless that speech too finds 
its place in the popular culture. Yet all is protected as speech, however in- 
sidious. Any other answer leaves the government in control of all of the in- 
stitutions of culture, the great censor and director of which thoughts are 
good for us. 

Id. at 330 

Some have suggested that Canada, which has taken a different approach to this 
issue, has the better of the argument. Those who do have ignored the spate of cen- 
sorship that the Canadian approach has inspired. In a 1992 decision, Butler v. Her 
Majesty, the Queen, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld a law that prohibited 
words and images that "degrade" or "ejcploit" women or other groups, relying on an 
interpretation of Canada's ten-year-old Bill of Rights. The result, rather than protec- 
tive of women, has been a series of raids on gay and lesbian bookstores, the seizure 
at the U.S. -Canadian border of award-winning books and plays as "hate propa- 
ganda," and the banishment of serious feminist literature. In other words, precisely 
the opposite effect of those who urged the Supreme Court to uphold the law. The 
United States, with its two- century-old Bill of Rights, has long recognized the im- 
possibility of interfering with only some ideas without that crack in the protection 
of fi*ee speech coming back to haunt. 



Those who would impose governmentally mandated labels on music albums, in 
the larger context, seek nothing less than to empower government to decide which 
kinds of speech should be unfettered and which should be accompanied by warnings 
that can only serve to discourage or suppress public access to the information being 
conveyed. If such warning labels can be mandated for rap music, why not to other 
forms of speech that others find equally unsettling? Why not to art, to books, to 
newspaper articles, or to political commentary? 

Yet, our Constitution views no idea as sufficiently dangerous to justify govern- 
ment warning or intervention. Its free-expression guarantee denies government a 
paternalistic authority over speech. It instead reserves these debates about the 
value and impact of expressive materials to the marketplace where parents and oth- 
ers, without government interference, may make their own decisions about when 
certain material should not be in the home. A multitude of unofficial voices may 
sound warnings about the dangers of certain speech, but official stamps of dis- 
approval have no place in a free society. 

Imagine the power that would be ceded to government if it could warn the Amer- 
ican people away from speech that those then in power considered against society's 
best interests. Political protest would be the first form of speech burdened with re- 
quirements of disclaimers or officially worded recitations of the underlying facts of 
the dispute. Governmentally compiled blacklists could be maintained for books, mov- 
ies, records, and television programs thought to encourage "anti-social" behavior. 
Yet, none of this would be constitutional because "the First Amendment forbids the 
government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the 
expense of others." City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 

While some might claim that labeling is not censorship, the First Amendment's 
prohibition against government regulation of speech includes both direct govern- 


ment censorship, as well as "more subtle governmental interference." Bates v. City 
of Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516, 523 (1960). It protects against "inhibition as well as 
prohibition." Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 309 (1965) (Brennan, J., 
concurring). Its protections extend against any burden placed by the government on 
the unfettered exercise of free-speech rights. A series of warning labels with specific 
government-approved wording violates the First Amendment as a form of prior re- 
straint in the nature of compelled speech. 

A prior restraint consists of a government regulation that restricts or interferes 
with speech prior to its utterance. The Supreme Court has said that "[a]ny system 
of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption 
against its constitutional validity." Bantam Books v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 70 
(1963). Warning labels violate the Constitution's prohibition on prior restraints by 
imposing an additional speech requirement on the expressive material before it en- 
ters the marketplace of ideas. The Court has said that "the Constitution does not 
permit government to decide which types of otherwise protected speech are suffi- 
ciently offensive to require protection for the unwilling listener or viewer." 
Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 210 (1975). Such a rule appUes with 
equal force to the unsuspecting listener or purchaser. 

Fundamental to the issue of labels or ratings is that the First Amendment's pro- 
tections include "both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speak- 
ing at all." Wooley v. Maynard 430 U.S. 705, 714 (1977). Justice Lewis Powell elabo- 
rated on these rights by noting that it is a "fundamental principle that the coerced 
publication of particular views, as much as their suppression, violates the freedom 
of speech." Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 178 n.l (1979) (Powell, J., concurring). 
The protections of the First Amendment encompass "the decision of both what to 
say and what not to say." Riley v. National Federation of the Blind, 487 U.S. 781, 
797 (1988). 

Underlying this constitutional principle is the idea that compelled speech "both 
penalizes the expression of particular points of view and forces speakers to alter 
their speech to conform with an agenda they do not set" Pacific Gas & Electric Co. 
V. Public Utilities Comm'n, 475 U.S. 1, 9 (1986). This would be true where record 
producers would seek to have artists change their lyrics in order to meet the govern- 
ment's agenda. 

To enforce this idea, the Supreme Coiirt has held that "significant encroachments 
on First Amendment rights of the sort that compelled disclosure imposes cannot be 
justified by a mere showing of some legitimate governmental interest." Buckley v. 
Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 64 (1976). Instead, the requirements draw "exacting scrutiny' and 
must have a "'substantial relation' between the government interest and the infor- 
mation required to be disclosed." Id. (footnotes omitted). 

These requirements attach "even if any deterrent effect on the exercise of First 
Amendment rights arises, not through direct government action, but indirectly as 
an unintended but inevitable result of the government's conduct in requiring disclo- 
sure." Id. at 65 (citations omitted). In other words, the disclosure requirements must 
be unrelated to any desire to suppress speech, even when motivated by a concern 
"for its likely communicative impact." United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310, 318 
(1990). See also United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968). 

Even if the notification requirement merely required a recitation of undisputed 
facts, it would not meet constitutional requirements. A law compelling such disclo- 
sure, the Court has said, "would cleairly and substantially burden the protected 
speech; " even though the "factual information might be relevant to the listener" and 
"could encourage or discourage the listener" from participating in the activity. Riley, 
487 U.S. at 798. The Court has always found that private means of disclosing such 
information is preferable to "a prophylactic rule of compelled speech." Id. The Riley 
Court invalidated a North Carolina law that required all solicitations by profes- 
sional fundraisers on behalf of charities to reveal the percentage of donations that 
they retained and that which went to the charities. 

The underlying intent of the North Carolina law, as the Court found, was to dis- 
courage contributions to charities that spent a high percentage of their funds on 
fundraising. Similarly, even a simple requirement that the author of a publication 
be identified can sometimes exert an unconstitutionally inhibitory effect on expres- 
sive materials. Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1960). 

As a result, governmentally mandated rating systems for movies have been invali- 
dated by the courts in numerous instances. See, e.g.. Interstate Circuit. Inc. v. City 
of Dallas, 390 U.S. 676 (1968); National Ass'n of Theater Owners v. Motion Picture 
Comm'n, 328 F. Supp. 6 (E.D. Wise. 1971); Motion Picture Ass'n of America v. Spec- 
ter, 315 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1970). Last year, a state court invalidated a Wash- 
ington law that required musical recordings containing "erotic" content to be 



labelled "Adults Only." Soundgarden v. Eikenberry, No. 92-2-14258-9 (King Ctv 
Sup. Ct Nov. 20, 1992), appeal pending. 

It is clear that any system of governmentally mandated warning labels on speech 
fails to pass constitutional muster under longstanding precedent 



Even if the other constitutional infirmities noted were not enough to invalidate 
labeling legislation, such a bill would face insuperable definitional problems. Which 
records merit warning labels, and which do not? The legislation itself would have 
to describe "with narrow specificity" the lyrical content that merited a label. NAACP 
v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 433 (1963) (citations omitted). 

Under the concept of due process of law, all legislation must be written in a man- 
ner that "give[s] the person of ordinary inteUigence a reasonable opportunity to 
know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly." Grayned v. City of Rock- 
ford, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1972). When a '^law interferes with the right of free speech 
* * * a more stringent vagueness test should apply." Village of Hoffman Estates v. 
Flipside, Hoffman Estates, Inc., 455 U.S. 489, 499 (1982). 

Thus, the statute itself "must provide explicit standards for those who apply 
them. A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to policemen, 
judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attend- 
ant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application." Grayned, 408 U.S. at 108- 

Even when "legislation [is] aimed at protecting children from allegedly harmful 
expression — no less than legislation enacted with respect to adults — [it must] be 
clearly drawn and * * * the standards adopted be reasonably precise." Interstate 
Circuit, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 390 U.S. 676, 689 (1968) (quoting with approval Peo- 
ple v. Kahan, 15 N.Y.2d 311, 313, 206 N.E.2d 333, 335 (1965) (Fuld, C.J., concur- 
ring)). To overcome these vagueness concerns, the statute itself must contain an "as- 
certainable standard for inclusion and exclusion." Smith v. Goguen, 415 U.S. 566, 

When legislation does not, it causes a chilling effect on speech, inducing speakers 
to "steer far wider of the unlawful zone" than if the boundaries were clearly marked. 
Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 526 (1958). It forces people to conform their speech 
to "that which is unquestionably safe." Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 372 (1964). 
Or, as in this case, it could pressure record producers to change the content of al- 
bums to avoid the labelhng requirement. 

The Constitution does not permit government to accomplish indirectly what it is 
forbidden from doing directly. It appears that no definition can conceivably give 
music companies sufficient notice of what speech is subject to regulation. It was on 
the basis of the void-for-vagueness doctrine, for example, that the Supreme Court 
struck down an ordinance that classified films as "not suitable for young persons" 
when it described or portrayed "brutality, criminal violence or depravity" or "nudity 
beyond the customary limits of candor in the community, or sexual promiscuity or 
extra-marital or abnormal sexual relations" in a manner "likely to incite or encour- 
age" crime, delinquency or sexual promiscuity "or appeal to their prurient interests" 
and "create the impression on young persons that such conduct is profitable, desir- 
able, acceptable, respectable, praiseworthy or commonly accepted." Interstate Cir- 
cuit, 390 U.S. at 681. 

The Eighth Circuit recently applied identical reasoning in striking down a Mis- 
souri law aimed at restricting minors' access to violent videocassettes, holding that 
the law was unconstitutionally vague. Video Software Dealers Ass'n v. Webster, 968 
F.2d 684, 688 (8th Cir. 1992). Last November, a similar result was reached by the 
Tennessee Supreme Court, invalidating as void-for-vagueness a law that made the 
display rental of visual depictions of excess violence," defined as "graphic and/or 
bloody" portrayals of violence "for violence's sake" that exceed community standards. 
Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Inc. v. McWheHer, No. 01-S-01-9208-CH-00090 (Nov. 8, 

At the same time, regulations aimed at labeling these games would probably also 
violate the First Amendment's overbreadth rules. Under this doctrine, laws that af- 
fect speech not legitimately subject to restriction are overinclusive and thus uncon- 
stitutional. See. e.g.. City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987). Because any sys- 
tem of parental notification would treat all offensive lyrics as equally harmful and 
thus meriting a warning label, it is likely to encompass music that has mainstream 
approval. Since there can be no legitimate government interest in warning consum- 
ers about these messages, as opposed to dangerous machinery, such regulations 
would be fatally overbroad. 


In Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 213 (1975), the Court invali- 
dated a city ordinance that prohibited nudity in films shown at drive-in theaters, 
in part, because the ordinance treated all nudity as harmful, including a "baby's 
buttocks, the nude body of a war victim, or scenes from a culture in which nudity 
is indigenous." The ordinance had been passed as a measure to protect children 
from inappropriate movie materigj. Applying the overbreadth doctrine, the Court 
held that an ordinance burdening expression may not sweep so broadly that it curbs 
speech that does not have the harmful effects that the government had sought to 
remedy. That principle applies equally to proposals aimed at rap lyrics. 


While there is no First Amendment bar against industry taking voluntary steps 
to provide warning labels, any government involvement in that process travels deep- 
ly into unconstitutional territory. Both "facilitation" and the threat of future govern- 
mental action violates the First Amendment "almost as potently as the actual appli- 
cation of sanctions." NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 433 (1963). 

Such government action was invaUdated by the Supreme Court in Bantam Books 
V. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963). There, the Court found that letters written by the 
Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth to certain bookstores and 
pubUshers, Usting "objectionable" publications and seeking "cooperation" in order to 
eliminate the necessity of our recommending prosecution" amounted to "a scheme 
of state censorship effectuated by extralegal sanctions; they acted as an agency not 
to advise but to suppress." Id. at 72. The letters attempted to impose "censorship 
by means of intimidation." Planned Parenthood v. Agency for International Develop- 
ment, 915 F.2d 59, 64 (2d Cir. 1990), cert, denied. 111 S. Ct 2257 (1991) (character- 
izing the meaning of Bantam Books). 

Significantly, the Court found that neither seizure, banning, or prosecution was 
necessary to constitute the First Amendment violation. The mere "threat of invoking 
legal sanctions and other means of coercion, persuasion, and intimidation" was the 
gravamen of the constitutional breach. Bantam Books, 372 U.S. at 637. As recently 
stated by one federal appellate court, "when the government threatens no sanction — 
criminal or otherwise — we very much doubt that the government's criticism or etTort 
to embarrass * * * threatens anyone's First Amendment rights. Penthouse Int'l. 
Ltd. V. Meese, 939 F.2d 1011, 1015-16 (D.a Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 112 S. Ct. 1513 
( 1992). Accordingly, when that criticism is accompanied by warnings of prospective 
governmental intervention, it does violate the First Amendment. 

When laws promote self-censorship of protected speech by holding out the pros- 
pect of legal consequences such as mandatory labeling, the First Amendment viola- 
tion is as significant as if the law directly prohibited the expression. Labeling books 
objectionable" was deemed by the Supreme Court as a form of "informal censorship 
[that] may sufficiently inhibit the circulation of publications to warrant injunctive 
relief" Bantam Books, 372 U.S. at 67. LabeUing requirements have the same pur- 
poses and effects. They cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny. 

Instead, the remedy for those who object to the lyrics of these songs Is to use their 
own free-speech rights to appeal to the public. Thus, the "fitting remedy for evil 
counsels is good ones." Whitney v. California, 21 A U.S. 357, 375 (1927) (Brandeis, 
J., concurring). Boycotts, protests, and education are tools that they can use to pro- 
mote their view that these lyrics are harmful or unworthy of public support. Movies, 
for example, are not just privately rated by the Motion Picture Association of Amer- 
ica, but also by newspaper reviewers, educators, parents groups, and advocacy orga- 
nizations. Parents wanting to make sure that they are acting responsibly with re- 
spect to the movies they let their children watch have the responsibility to find a 
rater that approaches their own sensibilities and act accordingly. It is ultimately, 
however, for the people to decide — without government interference — whether these 
IjTics continue to have an audience. 


There is no constitutionally legitimate government role in regulating or labeling 
rap music lyrics. "The First Amendment presupposes that the freedom to speak 
one's mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty — and thus a good unto itself — 
but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a 
whole." Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union, 466 U.S. 485, 503 (1984). When some 
modes of that expression are restrained, that common quest is undermined. 

History teaches that the threat to expressive freedom arises not just from censor- 
ship of speech that we as a society commonly value, but censorship of speech that 
does not have wide support or obvious merit. Thus, it would not matter if a majority 


of the public believed that gangsta rap should be suppressed. Constitutional rights 
are not subject to majority control, and "under our Constitution the public expres- 
sion of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offen- 
sive to some of their hearers." Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576, 592 (1969). 

It is important to note here that these are decisions of taste and propriety that 
can and should vary from household to household. There is no proper governmental 
role here. For that reason, the Court has correctly observed that "it is precisely be- 
cause government officials cannot make principled distinctions in [the arena of ex- 
pression] that the Constitution leaves matters of taste and style so largely to the 
individual." Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 25 (1971). Unlike when parents or pri- 
vate groups rate expressive materials in this manner, the Constitution is infringed 
when government acts to label speech "because it is thought unwise, unfair, false, 
or dangerous." Home Box Office. Inc. v. FCC, 567 F.2d 9, 47 (D.C. Cir. 1977) (cita- 
tions omitted). 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much, Ms. Lee. 
Mr. Bradley--we are going to skip around a Uttle bit— Mr. Wal- 
lace Bradley from Chicago? 


Mr. Bradley. Good morning, Senator Braun. I kind of hate that 
the great Senator Cohen got out of here before I could let him know 
that if Minister Farrakhan was in charge of the record industry, 
you can rest assured you wouldn't see no naked women on no cov- 
ers that are being sold nowhere. You can rest assured you wouldn't 
have no rappers talking about shooting my brother or shooting my 
sister. So out of respect to Senator Cohen and out of respect to 
Minister Farrakhan, I am not speaking for him; I am speaking in 
defense of him because I respect him. 

First and foremost, I must give honor to God for allowing me to 
represent African men and women in our struggle to overcome per- 
ceive boundaries that for far too long have obstructed our ability 
to achieve and maintain peace and brotherly love amongst our- 
selves within our dealings and the ability to communicate with 
each other. 

I am Wallace "Gator" Bradley, co-founder, director and spokes- 
man for United in Peace, a gang intervention specialist and an ad- 
vocate for better growth and development for all African men and 
women. The three most important and highly respected women in 
my life are my mother, the late Ettie Mae Bradley; my wife, Terry; 
and my daughter, Africa. I would never condone the demeaning of 
women with derogatory name-calling and/or their use for lewd and 
sexual exploitation. I denounce and deplore any promotion of vio- 
lence and distribution, sale, and/or the use of guns and drugs. 

I strongly condemn gangster rap being held responsible for 
senseless acts of misconduct or as an excuse for impulsive homi- 
cide. I am against the unfavorable focus on gangster rap to the fac- 
tual exclusion that that art form is obvious of the many afflictions 
of our times. 

As the parent of a 13-year-old son, Watari, and the grandfather 
of a 6-year-old grandson, Dwayne, and a 5-year-old granddaughter, 
Portia, I know that the music of choice for many of today's youth 
is gangster rap. The fact that the demand for gangster rap is very 
high in and of itself should not be alarming. Why? Because wheth- 
er society at large accepts it or not, gangster denotes the reality of 
the mind set of our children. 


It appeals to our children because, for many, it is carved right 
from the pages of their daily lives and their reality. Society there- 
fore should experience privilege that this art form has created a 
window to allow them a view of what our children are feeling and 
living in order that they may become better parents, teachers, lead- 
ers and communicators. 

Our focus should be to correct the error of the ways that led us 
to fail our children. For years, we have failed to set better exam- 
ples, provide better choices, reinforce better values. More impor- 
tantly, we continue to fail to listen. 

I understand you. Senator, by saying this is not a censorship 
hearing, but there are those that are trying to censor gangster rap 
in some type of form or another. I personally believe it is because 
they realize that the youth in the street have a way to once again 
explain themselves and communicate with themselves since the 
drum was taken away from us. 

I know for a fact that many rap artists have come to great artists 
like yourself, Dionne, and Jerry and a whole lot of artists to find 
out how to get involvement in this industry. A lot of the individuals 
that are in the record industry didn't even give them the attention 
to try to tell them how to do what is right and what is wrong, so 
they had to go and create the music for themselves. 

Rap did not get out of whack until it became commercialized. I 
want to make that point. What you saw up there was something 
that you could see in Penthouse and Playboy Magazine, and it is 
being pushed by the record industry that doesn't care about any- 
thing but a dollar. 

You asked the woman the right question. They need to be held 
responsible because they are an industry, so they can be regulated 
by the Government. First of all, a lot of the record companies are 
not even owned by Americans. Let us get that straight. Japan 
doesn't care anything about us as a people, so they will gladly push 
what Luther wants to say or wants to show around the world to 
show that that is our mind set. 

I did 4 years and a day in Stateville Penitentiary, and it was not 
because of a song that I heard. It was because I got caught up in 
the times and thought that if I could stick someone up, that would 
pay my rent. It was not a song. 

I think in a funny kind of way we ought to applaud Snoop Dog, 
not because of what he said but because of what he did that 
brought us all here to this room to try to find solutions to make 
it right. Again, that is how God works. I deal with solutions. No 
one applauded the gangster rappers when they all came together 
to say stop the violence. Nobody moved on a radio station to tell 
them to play those songs every V2 hour on the hour to stop our chil- 
dren from killing one another. 

I saw the future in it because I am glad that John Johnson from 
Chicago, Jet Magazine, had enough sense to have a 24-hour rap 
radio station. That is how I was able to put the word on the street 
through that station to stop the violence. 

Nobody said anything about Ice T and all the other gangster rap- 
pers that came together, like the song that Michael Jordan and all 
the other artists did about wrap your hands around world, or the 
way of the world, or whatever it is. They came together to say stop 


the violence, and no one — I have a lot of respect for Delores Tucker 
and I am saying, just like she showed her power to check the 
record stores from pushing Snoop's record, I hope she will use that 
same power to make sure that positive rap gets the same righteous 
rap, you see what I am saying, because it is very important. 

I have talked with Ice T, Snoop and all of them, and you are 
going to see lyrics being changed. But let us put the record indus- 
try on notice; when the artist says he wants to change his lyrics, 
don't tell him you can't distribute the product, because they would 
do that. 

I look at Snoop and a lot of other rappers and I say, hey, they 
got into the entrepreneurship of the industry game. They learned 
how to market, to sell, to promote and to distribute. The record in- 
dustry tried to destroy rap, OK, but they couldn't, and I loved it 
because I saw them selling tapes as opposed to selling rocks. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. By "rocks" you mean drugs? 

Mr. Bradley. Drugs. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Just to clarify the record. 

Mr. Bradley. Yes, "rocks" means drugs. When I see that not 
only are they musical geniuses, but look at the videos, those that 
are positive videos. You see them become directors putting out a 
message, and they are putting out the word about the importance 
about registering to vote. We have a lot of history that if we sit 
down with the rappers and give them the history of the struggle 
that Ms. Tucker has done and others before her have done and let 
that message go out, it would sound a positive thing where they 
would no longer want to kill one another because they will know 
that people have died that didn't kill one another, but have died 
to try to bring about a change. 

You see where 2 Pop — even though he has got caught up, he 
came out with the cut "Keep Your Head Up," explaining to a man 
that it is wrong not to take care of his child. We have got to look 
at the sisters in the rap game, too, now. Salt 'n Peppa is throwing 
down real raw, too, now. 

I didn't mean to make a long story out of this. It is just some- 
thing that we need to take the opportunity to use gangster rap as 
a fork in the road of change and learn to communicate with and 
reinvest in our children. I want my 2-year-old son, Kadmiel, to 
grow up believing that there is for him real freedom of speech and 
the right to choose, for we must not forget that we have all been 

First Corinthians 13:11 states, "When I was a child, I spoke as 
a child, I understand as a child, I thought as a child. When I be- 
came a man, I put away childish things." The evolution here is one 
derived from a mature process gained through knowledge. The im- 
plication is clear. This is an educational process that you call to- 
gether here, and you can rest assured when we leave this room 
1994 is going to be real great because those rappers are going to 
come out and they are going to apologize to the women. 

You know, you are going to see the press conferences and they 
are going to apologize to the people because now that Ice T and all 
of them have got their own money, they are now in control of them- 
selves and they have got their own record companies and they are 
going to put the real values into this. They are not going to be de- 


pending on a company that is bought by Japan that doesn't care 
anything about us, telling them what should be put on it. I mean, 
seeing those covers is atrocious to me. For them to put something 
like that in the market, and the advisory — the record company may 
mean well, but it doesn't mean anjrthing. It has got the same thing 
like you put on the package of cigarettes to tell you if you smoke 
the cigarette, you are going to catch cancer and it is going to kill 
the baby, and they still smoke the cigarette. 

I do know that, hey, because you don't see the gangster rappers 
here and because Farrakhan wasn't here, the spirit of love and re- 
spect for our women is not here. It is here and it is in full effect. 

Peace. [Applause.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you very much, Mr. Bradley. 

We have precious little time and I do want to hear from Mr, 
James and from Mr. Ridley so we can complete this last panel be- 
fore the superintendent forcibly removes us from this room. 

So, Mr. James, why don't you go next, and if you can be quick, 
we would really appreciate it. 


Mr. E. James. Yes, I will be within 5 minutes. First, I would like 
to say I am Errol James and I am representing myself and some 
young people from my neighborhood. I want to give you a little bit 
of history about myself. 

I am a 22-year-old native of Harlem who dropped out of high 
school at 15. During this time in my life, I was involved with every- 
thing that was negative in my community. I believed drugs and 
guns were the tools young black men living in America needed in 
order to get ahead in life. Fear of incarceration dwelled in the back 
of my mind day in and day out, but never stopped me from what 
I was doing. 

Because I was tired of watching my mother struggle to make 
ends meet, it was time for me to go out into the world and make 
something happen. But as a teenage G, gangster, with limited 
skills, I could not find legitimate employment. Therefore, I had to 
make use of what I had, which was my street knowledge and con- 
tacts. I later went back to school, got my GED and went on to col- 
lege, a local university. I wanted to give that history about myself 
because I am a dedicated hip-hop listener, fan, whatever you want 
to call it. 

Three quick things. I believe rap music often represents some 
young person's cry for a life with some opportunities. To change the 
lyrics and their effects, we must better the living conditions for 
youth in our inner cities, number one. Number two, I applaud 
Queen Latifah for making the record, "Unity," in which she talks 
about the words "bitch" and "ho" and stuff like that. That is the 
only way that it is going to change. The same channels that this 
violence and demeaning lyrics got out on are the same channels 
that the positiveness must come in through. So, that is the type of 
stuff that we need to see more. We need to see more people from 
inside the hip-hop community, more artists, people who have dif- 
ferent experiences and have different views, voice those through 
rap, through hip-hop. 


I also believe that the responsibilities of circulating or selling any 
kind of music are just as important as the responsibilities of per- 
forming and producing music. So if the record industry doesn't 
want to take that responsibility, I believe that the young artists, 
the listeners and the consumers need to take that responsibility. 
Snoop Dog made an album called "Doggy Style," but he didn't make 
anybody but it. There is some responsibility that has to be placed 
on the consumers, in my opinion. 

Again, I think that basically the most effective way to combat 
these types of songs is for young people — the message has to come 
from within. Legislative efforts can't be imposed on hip-hop. It 
started in the street, it still is in the street and it will remain in 
the street. Personally, I believe that the only reason we are having 
this hearing today is because some people in the record industry, 
you know, saw that young people could be exploited and they could 
make money off of young people. So this rap thing was basically 
communication among ourselves in the communities, in the hoods; 
like he said, the tapes that were being sold out of the cars on the 
corners, in the train stations, the tapes that were being sold in- 
stead of the crack. 

We carved a niche in society, and that is what we used to ex- 
press how v/e felt, to get a point across, to make some money. But 
there were some people who felt that they could make more money 
off of that, so it over-spilled into the large society. These t3rpes of 
lyrics, this type of behavior — I am 22 years old; I have heard this 
ever since I have been listening to so-called gangster rap. 

To sum this all up, there needs to be more opportunities for 
young people, in general, so they can experience different things, 
so they can rap about different things. If all we see is drugs and 
guns in the community, that is all we know to rap about. I don't 
believe that it is to be censored, but there does need to be some 
responsibility. Somebody needs to take responsibility, and I think 
that it should come from within the hip-hop community. 

I am not asking anybody outside the hip-hop community, the 
record industry, even though I do believe there is some responsibil- 
ity there. But the hip-hop community must take the full respon- 
sibility because we are the ones who listen to this. We are the ones 
who create this music. It is ours and we must maintain control 
over it. See, we have lost a little control now, so it is wild and we 
are being projected as gangster rappers when that is not nec- 
essarily what we wanted to project. We wanted to project the times 
that we were going through, the decisions that we had to make, 
why we choose to sell drugs instead of go to school and stuff like 
that. That is the cause. We focus a lot on the effect. We need to 
focus more on the cause. 

That is about all I have to say. [Applause.] 

[The prepared statement of Mr. James follows:] 

Prepared Statement of Errol Kenya James 

I'm a twenty two year old native of Harlem who dropped out of high school at 
fifteen. During this time in my life I was involved with everything that was negative 
in my community. I believed drugs and guns were the tools young black men living 
in America needed in order to get ahead in life. Fear of incarceration dwelled in the 
back of my mind day in and out but never stopped me from what I was doing I 
was tired of watching my mother struggle to make ends meet. It was time for me 

o«_:»QO n - Q^i - 5 


to go out into the world and make something happen. But as a teenage G (gangster) 
with Hmited skills I could not find legitimate employment therefore I had to make 
use of what I had which was my street knowledge and contacts. 

At seventeen I went back to school in pursuit of my equivalency diploma and 
within the first year of my enrollment I graduated and decided to go on to college. 
Although I wanted badly to get out of the city, I attended a local college for financial 
reasons. My interest was in government ana public administration because I began 
to realize the commitment I have to my community and it's improvement. I still 
yearn to attend school away from the city of New York so therefore after my first 
year at a community college I chose to suspend my studies so I could work and save 
the money needed. 

A. Rap music often represent some young person's cry for a life with some oppor- 
tunities. To change the lyrics and their effects, we must better the living conditions 
for youth in our inner cities. 

B. I do not believe that censorship of rap music is the best way to control the 
effects of poverty. Those of us from the Hip-Hop community are a special target for 
violent and demeaning treatment beyond rap music. 

C. I also believe the responsibilities of circulating and selling any kind of music 
are just as important as the responsibilities of performing and producing music. 

D. An effective anti-crime strategy would empower young people in America politi- 
cally, socially and economically. To impose legislation won't make the difference on 
the streets of our inner cities. To involve young people would be the beginning of 

E. I have looked over the proposed crime bills. My one and strong recommenda- 
tion is that young people in inner city neighborhoods be given opportunities to orga- 
nize and start programs designed to improve their lives and futures before they get 
into trouble or become incarcerated. 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you. That was very eloquent. 
Mr. Ridley? 


Mr. Ridley. I guess, as in life, I am the last one any of you all 
want to see. I am last on the program. [Laughter.] 

Good afternoon to the distinguished members of this Senatorial 
committee. It is with great respect and honor to be able to address 
this legislative body. My name is Keith A. Ridley, IV, and I serve 
as President and General Manager of my family's firm, the Ridley 
Funeral Establishment, here in Washington, DC, A.K.A., by na- 
tional press accounts. Murder Capital U.S.A. 

Yet, this afternoon I am not here to sell any of you a preneed 
package on eternal rest. However, I sit proudly to express my views 
from the perspective two-fold; first, being a businessman of the 
community and, second, as a young African American male who 
has membership in this so-called lost generation of misguided 
youth in America. 

In the mid- to late 1980's at the peak of the crack trade, a new 
menace to society was allowed to invade our homes in the form of 
art entertainment, as it was called. The sleek network program- 
ming of TV shows such as "Miami Vice" and "Crime Stories" and 
the Hollywood movies such as "Scarface" and "The Godfather" 
sagas have all projected the glamorized view that violence — well, it 
is OK to pump your gat, which means gun, into another human 
being simply because you felt that power to pull the trigger. 

However, as I listened to the various organizations and individ- 
uals this morning and this afternoon speak very elegantly and 
truly poignantly about the so-called gangster rappers' nastiness, 
well, the rappers in the 1990's are regarded by some as our new 
poets, the messengers, the CNN network of the black and white 
communities that extend across all ethnic, social, economic and ra- 


cial lines to report the straight knowledge to mainstream America. 
At this point, in my eyes, they are not the real problem. Senator. 
They are only a seedling of the frustration that was sowed long 

When the Framers of the Constitution laid the foundation, which 
included the right to bear arms and the freedom of speech, it was 
regarded as a sacred right by the forefathers, as an individual right 
with respect to each other's freedoms and liberties. Yet, we under- 
stand today with every provision there is some form of scurrility. 

We have to understand that this was a violent country that we 
have been in both domestically and internationally, and I could go 
on and name some things, but in the effort of time I am not going 
to do that because we know what they are. Let me move on. 

The bottom line is "We are reaping what has been sown us" and 
as the "crow is crowing" from coast to coast, "where is thy peace? 
" Today, in the 1990's, we have all sorts of conferences, forums and 
panels about violence in inner cities and urbanized communities, 
but that is just another way of putting a black face on violence. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is not a black thing. It is all over the 
country, the suburbs, and even worldwide. It is a people thing, so 
let us not sit here today fooling ourselves to believe that the lack 
of moral and true adult leadership in this Nation is a recent thing. 
Yet, somehow the frustration evinces itself in many different areas. 

As a young black professional male between the ages of 16 and 
35, because that is who is getting killed, I feel the pain that the 
rappers preach about the system. You tend to understand the 
seething anger that comes out of their hearts. But then I say to the 
rappers, Mr. Scarface, Paris, M.C. Ren, Ice T, the Getto Boys and, 
yes, Bushwick Bill, Eazy E and NWA, my brothers, it is time to 
stop the madness of self-hatred, constantly propounding the mes- 
sage that is spilling our precious blood for nothing. Is this the an- 
swer to replacing low self-esteem, to fulfilling the content of the so- 
called American dream? It doesn't make sense. 

If we understand our past, then we as a people can conquer the 
future. Whatever else is said about the powers of violence, it is only 
through self-help, personal responsibility and personal initiative 
that must be used as a tool to express that the mighty gun is not 
the solution. 

Please, I ask you, don't tell me that it can't be done. I am proof 
positive that all of us are not lost and in danger. In December of 
1991, at 24, my brother, Vincent, and my two cousins, Marco and 
Corinthian — we didn't wait for anybody to give it to us. Out of 
nothing, we formed our own corporation. We did not have one red 
penny. You know, 3 years later we are running a successful funeral 
establishment, under the age of 30, showing the city, the country 
and the masses in mainstream America that all of us are not rob- 
bing, dealing and killing. 

But before I conclude, I must also express that I do wish that 
some of you— and Senator Cohen got away — could just go to ^york 
with me for one day and see the impact of violence that is given 
to my responsibility. I deal with death every day. I am a mortician, 
and it hurts my heart because I am tired of burying my young 
brothers and sisters and the endless trips to the cemetery. 


I am tired of hearing the little children say to me, Mr. Funeral 
Man, why don't my daddy wake up, or to hear another young moth- 
er crying, Lord, Lord, why my baby got shot. I don't know what to 
tell this woman. I am tired another young black boy who will never 
marry, finish high school, get to college, hold a full-time job, or 
even see his 30th birthday. It is so unnatural to die young, espe- 
cially by a bullet. As Ms. Warwick said, it is time for my peers to 
start planning their future, not my $1,500 special, as a young girl 
wrote about in the Washington Post a couple of months ago. 

I know many of you here today don't have a clue about what goes 
on out there in the hood. Even Mayor Kelly a few days ago — you 
know, after 4 years in office, she states that she truly doesn't really 
know what is happening, and she is the mayor of the city. 

It is not just about the rap lyrics this morning. It is the portrait 
that has been painted centuries ago. As the screams for peace in 
the hood are cried daily, then I ask you to bring jobs as well. We 
know that jobs will reduce crime, bring on economic stability 
among the masses. Everybody wins. Looking to the penal system 
does not change one's ideology. You know, three strikes and you 
are out is not going to do it. If we can stop a Cuban cigar from get- 
ting here, then why can't we stop drugs, guns, violence? 

You know, today the only one that can save us is us. If not us, 
then who? The struggle continues day by day. Our future, if it is 
going to be nonviolent, requires that we stop talking about it and 
create jobs with equal pay, place economic empowerment from the 
bank to the school house to the church house, make that a priority. 
All of us have marched too long, worked too hard and prayed too 
long. If we grab our fair share, then maybe this awful violence will 
abate itself. 

But today I appeal to you — and the rest of them need to hear 
this, too — that it is time to cut the gridlock, stop the pork-barreling 
and the Beltway politics and be about the real business of what 
government is all about, and that is for the people, of the people 
and by the people. 

Thank you. [Applause.] 

Senator Moseley-Braun. Thank you. Now, let me thank this 
panel. You were all very eloquent. I understand, before we adjourn, 
Ms. Warwick and Dr. Tucker had some young people here whom 
they wanted to introduce, one of whom we saw on the video mon- 
itor. So if you will just take a moment, we will do that and then 
we will conclude. 

Dr. Tucker? 

Ms. Tucker. We would like to recognize the young members 
from the hood who are a part of the Entertainment Commission co- 
chaired by Dionne Warwick and Terry Rossi and Melba Moore, and 
that is Tyreen Wilson, whom you saw in the video. She is our re- 
search director for the lyrics which she told us we needed to hear 
and she didn't like hearing. 

Peace in the Hood is a group of young brothers who have positive 
rap. They are in the business of selling these shirts to let everyone 
know that there is not only violence in the hood, but there is peace 
in the hood. If you will turn around, they have a positive rap on 
the back here which they can't get any record industry to promote. 
It says, "Let's Get Together." 


If I could, give I just have them address you for 30 seconds? 

Senator Moseley-Braun. 30 seconds. 

Ms. Tucker. I would rather let the young people speak just 30 

Senator Moseley-Braun. 30 seconds. 

Ms. Tucker. Tyreen, just 30 seconds. 

Senator Moseley-Brau^. Quickly, because we are over time. 

Ms. Wilson. What I would like to say is I did some volunteer 
work service in elementary schools for 2nd and 3rd and 4th grad- 
ers, and I am kind of limbo in regard to this gangster rap thing. 
A lot of it should not be sold. It should be in a pornographic shop 
with all of the other magazines that this gentleman was just talk- 
ing about. 

The children are affected by it. I mean, I was devastated that a 
lot of these children come to the schools and they sing this stuff 
to me and they ask me, don't you like that, don't you think Snoop 
Dog is great, and all that. I am like, wait a minute, no, it is not 
because they are saying "bitches" and "hoes" and they want to stab 
each other up. I have been in so many fights with these children 
trying to kill each other in the classroom with pens, and it is not 
an exaggeration. So it does need to be controlled seriously. 

Thank you. 

Senator Moseley-Bral'N. Thank you very much. 

These are the gentlemen with Peace in the Hood? You are with 
Peace in the Hood? 

Mr. Singleton. Yes, ma'am. My name is Gary Singleton. I come 
from New Orleans, LA. I grew up in the projects, so I live basically 
this gangster rap that everybody is talking about. I lived that stuff. 
But, you know, it is like when your mom spanks your behind, you 
don't want to keep living that, you know. You want to get away 
from that, so basically what we did was we started our own com- 
pany called Dinka Enterprises, which means "peace," and we came 
up with this clothing line. 

We have a positive rap song that was the number one song here 
in DC, 2 years ago. We couldn't get anyone in the record industry 
to support us. 

Senator Moseley-Bralisi. Well, you know what? Let me cut you 
off. This might be a lovely note for us to conclude. Senator Cohen 
just came back. Why don't you rap your positive rap and then we 
will cut off the hearing? Go for it. 

Mr. Singleton. This is a portion of the song on the back of the 
shirts that we have out. It says: 

Peace is a state of mind benefitting mankind because violence is unkind, dating 
back to the first days of time. It's time for us to bust a positive line. Fighting, killing 
is a form of insanity. When someone dies, there's a loss to humanity. Some don't 
get involved because they're not concerned, but when the bomb come down, every- 
body bum. Is this the way God planned it to happen or is it just nonsense, the stuff 
that I've been rapping? It's just something everybody ought to think about. It's a 
part of reahty, no doubt. Is it so hard for human beings to get along? Why kill to 
show that killing is wrong? Senseless violence, now what does it say to me? It's not 
a form of p-e-a-c-e because war is a sin. To be blunt, you can sin many times, but 
you only die once, so peace is the program you need to get with. Don't be a misfit 
or a nit wit. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men, If you want to beat your enemy, 
then make them your friend. 

And we are out. [Applause.] 


Senator Moseley-Brai:^\ All right. With that, the hearing is ad- 
journed. Thank you all very, very much. 

[Whereupon, at 3:08 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.] 


Additional Submissions for the Record 

Lester Swartz, 
Toledo, OH, February 28, 1994. 

Hon. Herbert Kohl, 
Committee on the Judiciary, 
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. 

Dear Senator Kohl: I have enclosed a copy of my formal complaint sent by fax, 
on February 25, 1994, to Ms. Cathy Poston in nominations. I have also requested 
that this complaint be made a part of the official record, before the confirmation vote 
by the Executive Committee, of Florida Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett's nomina- 
tion to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 

As alluded to in the above complaint, the appearance of impropriety that seems 
to exist in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, arises be- 
cause of the nearly four month lack of due response, regarding the three judicial 
misconduct complaints against the said members of the opinion panel, filed by my- 
self, with the Clerk of the Circuit, and, in fact, given by the Clerk's office, in fact 
to Chief Judge Bard Tsoflat or his office, for his duly expeditious action. 

In light of the matters raised in mv complaint and the fact that Chief Judge 
Tsoflat, is also a member of the Florida Bar; the fact that Judge Tsoflat, has not 
timely responded to these said judicial misconduct complaints to date; the fact that 
Judge Woodrow Hatchett is a member of the Florida Bar and was a member of the 
opinion panel; the fact that Judge Hatchett, was a former member of the Florida 
Supreme Court; the fact that Judge Hatchett, did not disquaUfy himself from the 
opinion panel; the fact that I was not duly informed of Judge Hatchett's presence 
on the panel; the fact that the other members of the opinion panel. Judge Dubina 
and Judge Anderson, reasonably knew of Judge Hatchett's relationship with the 
Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court and appear to have simply, if you will, 
"gone with the flow;" legitimately and reasonably, raises very serious questions of 
the appearance of impropriety that manifestly has surrounded my case from it's in- 

In short, it seems, perhaps for obvious reasons, I can only have the fate of this 
matter determined, for the most part, by members of the Florida Bar, and have 
been unjustly denied mv day in Court and trial by a jury of my peers, most repug- 
nant to the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution and the supposed American 
way." Needless to say, this "Florida Bargate" matter, does not sit well with me, and 
I am more than certain, will not sit well with the American people. 

For yoiu- information, I have already filed complaints to the following Florida Bar- 
member controlled. State Attorneys Offices in Dade County, Broward County, and 
Palm Beach County; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the Honda 
Statewide Prosecutor's Office; the Florida Department of Legal Affairs; the Florida 
Attorney General's Office; the Florida Supreme Court; the Umted States Attorney's 
Office, and the Office of the Governor. I have also been in contact with the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Authorities, the Umted States 
Justice Department and their Section on Public Integrity, but, for reasonably obvi- 
ous reasons, to no avail. 



I have a great problem with the above believed official misconduct on the part 
of the above said agencies and with all that has transpired to date in this subject 
matter, and would greatly appreciate it, if you personally, perchance, would look 
into my said concerns and inform me by letter or fax, what action, if any, you or 
your committee, or both, can or will expeditiously take, to rectify this most intoler- 
able and obvious surreptitious threat to the judiciary and our national Interests. 

I, respectfully request, and sincerely hope, that you will duly share and address 
my just concerns regarding the aforesaid issues, and hope that someday, when the 
facts are fiilly related, you will understand, my immediate and vehement resolve, 
that the Florida Bar and the Justices of the Florida Supreme Court, will be held 
totally accountable for their most heinous and treasonous acts. 


Lester Swartz. 

Lester Swartz, 
Toledo, OH, February 24, 1994. 
Ms. Kathy Poston, 
Committee on the Judiciary, 
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. 

Dear Ms. Poston: I respectfully request this letter be made a part of the official 
record, as my just and vehement protest to FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CHIEF 
JUSTICE, ROSEMARY BARRETT'S nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of 
Appeals. I am further respectfully requesting that a copy of this letter expeditiously 
be given to each and every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, before the 
final confirmation vote. Upon request, I will be more than willing to furnish copies 
to this committee of any and all documents which will undeniably support the facts 

That based upon my personal knowledge of the events below and certain docu- 
ments and information contained in the cases listed below, Florida Chief Justice, 
Rosemary Barkett's confirmation to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Ap- 
peals Poses, a crystal clear and present danger to the Judiciary and to our National 
interests and security. Further, her membership on this particular Court of Appeals, 
based upon recently discovered information and belief, would only add to the appear- 
ance of impropriety that seems to currently exist in this same said Court of Appeals. 

A "fair and impartial" reading of the record of these cases below, shovild clearly 
demonstrate to this committee, that Florida Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett, while 
she was acting under oath and under color of law knowingly engaged in outrageous 
official misconduct that was: 

1. Prejudicial to the due administration of justice 

2. Conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary 

3. Conduct unbecoming a member of the Florida Bar, and, 

4. Conduct unbecoming a member of each and every Bar of which she is 
a member. 

The cases and records include, but are not limited to, the following: 


The record of these cases will show that Florida Chief Rosemary Barkett, as well 
as the present justices of the Supreme Court, in fact, knew, or reasonably should 
have known: That the arm of the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida bar, via certain 
named corrupt and out of control, Florida bar officials, in fact: 

1. Willfully, wantonly, maliciously and with criminal intent conspired and 
contrived, to put on a "sham disciplinary trial," before a Florida Supreme 
Court appointed referee, that illegally resulted in the respondent. Attorney 
Peter Margolin, being aided and abetted and held harmless from any due 
disciplinary action whatsoever. Further, that in a pattern of ongoing 
schemes and artifices to defraud and in an endeavor to aid and abet 
Margolin and obstruct the disciplinary prosecution of Margolin certain 
named Florida bar officials: 

A. Conspired to actively conceal, from the referee, during the said discipli- 
nary trial, fraudulent letters, caused by Margolin, that were known, or rea- 
sonably should have been known to be false, by the Florida bar staff offi- 



cials, Margolin, and, later, to all of the Justices of the Florida Supreme 
Court, thereby aiding and abetting Margolin in his illegal acts. 

B. Conspired to actively conceal known vital testimony and witnesses from 
the aforesaid referee, thereby aiding and abetting Margolin in his illegal 

C. Aided, abetted, and conspired to fraudulently portray the disciplinary ac- 
tion as legitimate. 

D. Aided, abetted, and conspired to fraudulently portray further investiga- 
tions into these matters as being legitimate 


As a result of the above sham disciplinary trial, Swartz, pro-se, filed this action 
against the Florida Bar Officials and "The Margolins" for violations of the Racketeer 
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) using violations of mail fraud and 
wire fraud as the predicate acts; for violations of his civil rights; and, for violations 
of Florida Statutes involving fraudulent practices, theft, and racketeering. 

The record of this case will show thatFlorida Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett, as 
well as the present justices of the Florida Supreme Court, in fact, knew, or reason- 
ably should have known: that the arm of the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida 
bar, via certain named corrupt and out of control, Florida bar officials, in fact: 

1. Willfully, wantonly, maliciously, with criminal intent, and in furtherance 
of the said Florida bar official's ongoing schemes and artifices to defraud 
the citizens of the state of Florida, and, the Judiciary, these s£iid bar offi- 

A. Aided, abetted and conspired to actively conceal from the United States 
District Court, the aforesaid known, or reasonably known, falsity of the let- 
ters and documents, again caused and submitted by Attorney Peter 
Margolin, during the sham disciplinary proceedings, in furtherance of the 
said Florida bar officials, et al., ongoing schemes to obstruct, hinder, and 
impede the due administration of justice. 

B. Aided, abetted and conspired to actively conceal from the United States 
District Court the known, or reasonably known, falsity of two "bad faith" 
affidavits, that in fact, were caused and submitted, once again, by Attorney 
Peter Margolin, through his counsel, during the official proceedings, in fur- 
therance of Margolin's ongoing schemes to obstruct, impede, and hinder the 
due administration of justice. 

C. Aided, abetted and conspired to actively conceal an apparent insurance 
fraud upon the malpractice insurance carrier, the home insurance company, 
caused by this same Attorney, Peter Margolin, and his law firm, Margolin 
and Margolin chartered, formerly known as gardner and margoUn char- 


The record will show that District Judge James C. Paine (a member of the Florida 
Bar), wrongfully dismissed the action tor lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and 
then proceeded to grant the Florida Bar's and "The MargoUn's" motion to dismiss, 
with prejudice: a) without Swartz ever having an opportunity to see or speak to the 
federal judge, b) without Swartz ever receiving a hearing or notice of hearing, c) 
without Swartz ever being permitted to obtain any discovery whatsoever, and d) 
without Swartz ever being permitted to show, through discoveir, that subject matter 
jurisdiction did in fact exist. Consequently, Swartz, pro-se, filed this appeal. 

The record of this case will also show that Florida Chief Justice, Rosemary 
Barkett, as well as the present justices of the Florida Supreme Court, in fact, knew, 
or reasonably should have known: The arm of the Florida Supreme Court, the Flor- 
ida bar, via certain named corrupt and out of control, Florida bar officials: 

A. Aided, abetted and conspired to actively conceal from the pertinent 
courts, that the said Florida bar officials, the "Margolin defendants," and 
their apparent powerful and influential counsel, caused certain false filings 
to be made in the United States District Court and the Court of Appeals 
for the Eleventh Circuit, 

B. Aided, abetted and conspired to actively conceal the blatant fact that the 
defendant Florida bar officials, the "Margolin defendants" and their overt 
"influential" counsel, had also engaged in; conduct prejudicial to the due ad- 


ministration of Justice, illegal conduct involving moral turpitude, fraud, de- 
ceit, dishonesty, overreaching, undue influence, moral coercion, perjury, etc. 

C. Aided, abetted and conspired to obstruct justice and violate Swartz's and 
others civil rights. 


A duly zealous investigation caused by this committee in the above said matters, 
should unquestionably reveal that Florida Supreme Court Justice, Rosemary 
Barkett, while acting under oath, under color of law, and as a "fiduciary of the pub- 
lic trust" : 

1. Reasonably knew of the said nefarious conduct by the Florida bar offi- 

2. Reasonably knew that such reprehensible misconduct by the said Florida 
bar officials was not an isolated incident; that this said and other gross mis- 
conduct has been occurring over a considerable period of time, and had 
formed, and continues to form, a constant and ongoing pattern, the fruition 
of which amounts to racketeering activity and the absolute and total aban- 
donment of the moral virtues expressly incumbent upon these saiid Florida 
bar officials, et al. 

3. Reasonably knew that these said Florida bar officials clearly, willfully, 
wantonly and with criminal intent, have deceived scores of other complain- 
ants to the Florida bar by the organized fraudiilent practices of the known 
and unknown Florida bar officials and members. 

4. Reasonably knew that these Florida bar officials have been falsely lulUng 
the people into believing that the Florida bar and the Florida courts will 
exact from all those who engage in the due administration of Justice the 
highest degree of confidence and good faith, when, in fact, this expressed 
promise to the people has been, knowingly and with criminal intent, mani- 
festly breached. 

That as a direct and proximate cause of the acts, omissions, and the apparent and 
just suspect failure of Florida Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett, to duly adapt to the 
requisite standards of fidelity and diligence of her office, she has surreptitiously dis- 
honored and Jeopardized the rolls of each and every pertinent Bar in which these 
fraudulent "officers of the court" have been admitted to practice, many of whom are 
admitted to practice as members of the bar of the highest and the most honored 
Court in this nation, the United States Supreme Court. 

By so doing, Florida Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett, has unduly and despicably, 
betrayed the People and the Judicial Branches of Government, by inordinately, with 
criminal intent, unleashing upon the unwary American people, "reasonably known 
dangerous, counterfeit, criminal and perverted products and terrorists of the judici- 
ary, to illegally remain staged as "members in good standing and fiduciaries and 
guardians of the public trust," absent her vowed "good faith inspection" of the same, 
consequently, detrimental to the public good and welfare; and, outrageously repug- 
nant to, the preamble, to the Constitution of The United States and the legal com- 
munity's supposed "sense of integrity, decency and fair play." 

Further, as a result of the said acts and omissions by Florida Chief Justice, Rose- 
mary Barkett, to sabotage the American trial machinery, by her breach of fiduciary 
duty by her obvious, calculated overlooking the known false, traitorous and illegal 
acts of the said Florida Bar Officials, et al., she and the said others, have desecrated 
and made a holocaust, a mockery and a sham of: 

a. The attorney disciplineiry process; 

b. An attorney's Oath of Admission to the Bar and Code of Professional Re- 

c. A Judge's Code of Conduct; 

d. A Judge's Oath of Office; and, 

e. The supposedly noble and honorable profession of law. 

That the said acts including, but certainly not limited to, nonfeasance, malfea- 
sance, misfeasance and official misconduct on the part of the said Justice Rosemary 
Barkett, were knowingly fashioned in bad faith, with malicious purpose, and, in a 
manner that clearly exhibits malicious, willful and wanton abuse of her office and 
power, and, her utter ruthless and reckless disregard of the human rights, safety 
and property of the people she has sworn to defend. 

By so doing, the Florida Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett, has defiled her Oath 
of Office; has sorely breached her most cardinal responsibility of primary allegiance 
to her country; has also contaminated and made a holocaust, a mockery, and a sham 


of this country's only orderly and supposedly predictable manner in which the Amer- 
ican people are able to peacefully redress our grievances; and, by her treasonous 
acts, she has provoked this most grave and regrettable confrontation. 

\Vherefore,m the due interests of the principles of right and justice and the due 
national security; and, in utter due good conscience: 

A. This Honorable committee, should duly, deny, Florida Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett's, confirmation to the United States Court 
of Appeals for the eleventh circuit, 

B. This Honorable committee should duly cause a complete investigation to 
be made into the said and other activities of the Florida Supreme Court, 

C. This Honorable committee should duly cause a complete investigation 
into the said criminal and "un-american activities" of the Florida bar enter- 
prise, it's officials and the aforesaid subject attorneys. 

I declare under the penalty of perjury that the statements made in this complaint 
are true and correct to the best of my knowledge. 
Lester Swartz 

Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin, 
GPO Box, New York, NY, February 21, 1994. 
Hon. Carol Moseley-Braun, 
Committee on the Judiciary, 
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. 

Dear Hon. Moseley-Braun: Thank you for your gracious letter of February 14, 
requesting that I submit a written statement for the upcoming Senate hearings on 
"the effects of violent and demeaning music Ijrics on our nation's youth," taking 
place on Wednesday, Feb. 23. 

As I have said in my previous letters to your office, dated January 7 and 11, I 
am interested in the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee's Juvenile Justice 
Subcommittee has scheduled such a hearing, and I am honored by your request for 
my submission of a written statement on this topic. 

It was originally my hope to testify at the hearing, for at least two reasons: 

1. My conviction that, unfortunately, any hearing thus focused would 
heavily address hip-hop music, particularly that portion of hip-hop com- 
monly called "gangsta rap," quote-unquote. 

I think this conviction has been borne out by the selection of panelists, most of 
whom seem connected to hip-hop in one fashion or another. 

Put another way, there seems to be no direct representation on the panels from 
the music genre of, say, heavy metal; another music in which certain participants 
have been accused of composing "violent and demeaning music lyrics," which are, 
then, marketed and sold to youth. 

2. My personal and professional interest in the hip-hop form, as widely 
read and recognized student of it. 

It was, and is, my feeling that, should such an emphasis on "gangsta rap" develop 
during this hearing: 

a. The discussion should immediately be broadened to encompass, at the 
very least, with appropriate and direct representation, all forms of commer- 
cial or commercialized "speech" which demean and/or are violent, as such 
pertains to youth; for example; some forms of print and other media adver- 
tising; numerous television talk shows; or certainly many "shock jock/hate" 
radio programs. 

b. Persons adequately informed in the subtleties and nuances of hip-hop 
culture, who possess an activist reputation within the form, must be 
present to address relevant issues. 

When I look at the Ust of attendees for these hearings, it doesn't appear that ei- 
ther of these activities will take place. The list seems selective, without even the 
illusion of balance. For example, while the panel apparently centers on hip-hop, it 
seems that few hip-hop artists, deeply involved within the genre, will be present. 
It seems that "community activists, smart people, concerned about the issues that 
face Black people^istant from the genre — will be there. However, "never the twain 
shall meet." 


I think this is a real mistake. I think that this will hurt the nature and precision 
of the debate, and that this needed not occur, especially given the wealth of appro- 
priate talent available. 

When I consider, for example, the communicative skills and high reputations of 
such individuals as David "Davey D" Cook, a writer and air personality from Oak- 
land CA — the home for much of what is called "gangsta rap — or the of MaryKay 
Penn, a scholar, youth worker, and founder of the Institute for African-American 
Folk Culture, here in New York — these individuals, among many others — I find my- 
self doubtful, as an activist for and supporter of the hip-hop form, that many of the 
most cogent issues will be clearly examined during these hearings. 

I'm excited by expectations of testimony from many with whose work I'm familiar: 
Michael Eric Dyson, from Brown University; Darryl James, Rap Sheet; Luther 
Campbell, Luke Records; Hillary Rosen, RIAA; James Bernard, The Source and 
David Harleston, Def Jam Recordings. Also, I'm sure that many of the other panel- 
ists will also have important and interesting things to say. 

However, why are there no white, highly-placed, major record label executives tes- 
tifying? Even more so, on the opposing end, why are there no participants on the 
panel without titles — ordinary people who buy records; who are consumers or users 
of this music? 

Why are there, as far as I can tell, no, or more, participants under the age of 21, 
especially given that this is hip-hop's primary audience, and that the hearing is re- 
portedly being convened based on a concern for youth? Why shouldn't many young 
people interpret this absence as paternalism? 

And to the core issue of convening these panels: Why is a U.S. Senate Judiciary 
committee not moving much more, far more cautiously into the precious, constitu- 
tionally-protected area of speech, especially given the diverse setbacks we have 
faced in this area under Reagan and Bush, and that Black people have faced since 
that infamous day we first set our chained and shackled feet upon these shores? 

Why are we talking about lyrics when Black people, in hip-hop and without, are 
being deceitfully, secretly, and violently exploited in so many other ways? 

Why are we talking about speech, first, when these actions are so much more ef- 
fective and perverse? 

Even upon being assured by a member of your staff that these hearings are a 
"first step," it is still my feeling that first steps must be especially sure-footed, as 
much as is possible, in order to make sure that future steps can even follow. 

What does reassure me, of course, is the great sense I have of your intelligence, 
yom* sense of justice, and what I perceive as your unwillingness to be lied to; all 
of these coupled with the fact that' as the first Black U.S. Senator since Reconstruc- 
tion, or after the Civil War, you possess a view that has been forged by the uninter- 
rupted residency of racism; that for you, racism is not abstract; not "a feeling" or 
"a belief," as perhaps many of your distinguished colleagues might describe it, but 
a devastating effect and ongoing result; about as active on this planet as sunshine. 

I mention racism here, not to strike some sort of facile camaraderie with you, but 
because, simply, I feel the general controversy around "gangsta rap," quote-unquote- 
unquote-unquote, is designed to be distracting; that the real issue is racism, in its 
sole expression of white supremacy, and that "gangsta rap" — indeed hip-hop in its 
entirety — is, essentially, a reaction to white supremacy; one of many that Black peo- 
ple have developed against racism, none of which have yet been effective against 

In other words, alleviate the problems that Black people face, virtually all of 
which can be directly traced to our cold introduction to "the Western Hemisphere," 
"the New World," etc.; in other words, our cold introduction to the people dominating 
us here, and in other places. 

Do this — whether through step-by-step, corrective legislation, over decades and 
centuries; or through reparations to Black people for the holocaust of slavery and 
its disastrous aftermath; or through some other workable technique — and "gangsta 
rap" will melt, evaporate, and vanish, like spilled ice on a hot, Chicago sidewalk. 

Why? Because there will simply be no need, or use, for it. 

Do not alleviate the problems that Black people face, and "gangsta rap" will sim- 
ply be replaced by something else, there being, perhaps, only two assurances in this 

One, whatever replaces "gangsta rap" will make "gangsta rap" look absolutely 
quaint by comparison. 

Two, the coming, socio-material conditions this new, futuristic form critiques will 
make those as you and I long for "the good ole' days," when the Black male body 
count in Chicago, Washington DC, New York and other places was only "high," and 
we still had somewhere to put the bodies. 

My written statement to the Senate shall consist, thusly, of: 


i) "Hip-Hop: The New Jazz," a piece I did for the Black-owned, Brooklyn- 
based weekly, The City Sun, for its Feb. 17, 1988 issue. 

ii) a piece I did for Essence — that magazine's very first center-of-the-book 
piece on hip-hop — published in April 1989. 

Both of these articles, each over five years old, have been hailed for being far 
ahead of the times in their detailed discussion of hip-hop as a new form within the 
continuum of Afrikan culture. 

iii) a piece I wrote about violence, misogyny, and profanity in music 
lyrics, and Black radio station WBLS-Nrs commensurate banning of 
records with such lyrics. This piece ran in New York Newsday's op-ed sec- 
tion last month, on Jan. 7. It has been, and I fully expect it will continue 
to be, hailed for its innovation. 

iv) This letter, in its entirety. 

With the exception of this letter, I have sent all of the above materials to your 
office previously. However, while they do not accompany this fax, I am posing five 
dupUcates to you, with five copies of this letter, as you have requested. Please for- 
give their submission after the Feb. 16 date. There was some brief conftision be- 
tween your office and mine, based on the wording of your previous, Feb. 10 letter, 
and this delayed my response. 

I hope all of this information helps your attempts to clarify what has become, 
overall and in general, a (typically) muddled discussion about Black people. 

My thanks to the members of yovu- staff — Pam Smith, Chris Rabb, Joanna Slaney, 
Lance Holbert — including those with whom I did not have direct contact — Jeff 
Gibbs, Lynn Moten, and perhaps others — for their wonderful help and assistance. 

God bless you, your family, and your efforts. 

Thank you for your time and your interest. 

Harry Allen. 


• The jiiung. browii-skinncd vktinun stood in tht rniJdk nl' ihi- litmip, p.itiiii); mil j ..n the i;i.hiiuI witli hit 
Irct. at the same time bc-atin{; nut a rhythin tm hit chest and leys with her h.iiids Peiiple crnwtled ilnser. taught by 
the quiet, distinct, funky sound Suddenly she bej;an id thyme, fast and furiously As |Hiiplc listened, swayed and 
swung to the beat, she shot poetic insults at friends ne.iihy. to their clui-rin and the itowds ddi);ht She rhymed 
about her experiences, thinjjs that both she and her audience had seer, and c>.|xrit need She kept that s.ime funky 
rhythm as the dancinj; crowd went crazy wirh loud screams and shouts 

" Basement party bc-;it-b<)x in the Briini.' LA. street-curner perlormer' 

Neither. A description of pattin' juba." circa l.S'iO, from historian tiletn 

Southern's rcvelatoty work TAc M//iir »f B/tjfi Aimmjih. 

Nearly 140 years later, over the sound of a ciruin m.uhine and one eetily 

repeating, mournful, four-note hotn ritf. 2()-year-old Mike G matter-ot-factly 

drops science on the Jungle Brothers s recording In Tunc' "In i'hih thii rliyim 

will he Mun ihnii juii u jjiiitnylA BLui iiuiii mil Ih ihv iiuiii lo (Uiim pmuUiuylii ii kiril 

lu <«/ .^0 Iry In la ,ii I snilii Inm I itt ti Ikiuv Bluit M./Zy/j/// I'li mn In ufitii llv iloiirl 

Hr III III one million muni Ami I ilnii'l ihinklThal lliii .miiilr^ I imi u'V lull iIk Ml llhil ill 

III fir. . . 

You won't hear lyrics like that from 50,000 of todays KdSS artists. Such trank talk 

will only be found in hip-hop miisa. or 'rap,' to use a term that we invented and 

whites LiKipted to rename, delaine or claim the music II sales. inHuenc..- and visibility are 

any indication, hip-hop is now runnin' thangs; it's the dominant Afruan-Aniencan music Its 

about time Hip-hop is yixjthhji. stmng It exhibits 

none of the cteative listlcssncss with which much 

of R«:B IS currently burdened Nor does it have 

the hands-otf, glov^^s-on reverence with which 

|az2 often finds itself draped. Rather tlian pte- 

tending to bourgeois standards ol style, t>r 

attempting musically to evoke a time 

dead and gone, as many jazz and P&B 

artists are wont to do, rappers instead 




• • 


. "' » 

. •%. ' '' v.* 




^^^B NCt • APRJL 



\\iny ilii- r.iv'M, most rtalistit insi^iitN ,i( ^■mir Dtcijys takt your hivnntt ri-mrt-K. lui cm 
up, mix cm jround and scr\x' t-m to jtm on .1 rttonl pl.iticr Mi.Miu\liilf thtir crtivMis move ,ind their Nidics m ways GrandnvithcT once saul \\iniKi iklinitcK ^ct y»nt priTinant or 
arrt-MKl. It all comts together in a whole: fimky 'I'nuknowhirniNjyin' 

A'.//» /;/ ihi Jrnni room, roacltti in the had^ljunliti in iK- allrs u ilh tin h,i\ih.ill Uili'l itittl /«' .;■«/ 
uifaw hill I omidu't get ^rl'Came a uilh 
4i ititr liinl nft'iwcaeei tny tar. . ." 

"\n me. hip-hops always Seen arountl. 
says Melvtn i dover. aka Mclle-Mel, lead vo- 
tJJist for Cirandmastcr Flash &: the Turious 

\'i\c. whi. ^ave i's "The Message, jImivc. and arc no dtaiht the 

iT.oM im|ioftan( irew m the niusi< s short history. "Irs the s.ime 

sl>:( fh.K Ulatk |H-ople uas (.liantin* on the chain gang, .i>u! chat 

tiiey \\a% saym when tliev w;«s slaves 'Hi-de-ho!' — all that shit 

IS rap l*igintai Markham ami 'Meali <^omcs l)e Judge' That's 

tap' Kap .il\\a\\ in en oin Hurt li |ust waitm' (or smnelxKly 

t" Jaiiti i( 

I't^MKa; Markiiam Mnivammaii Ah <jib Calkm^y. Isaai Haws 

Moms Ntahlev Millie Jai. kvHi Joe "lix. Malcolm X. As Mel says, 

■ I ha{ V alwavv Inen i/i/r essente- |ust to talk, you know what 

f in sax HI ' 

' \'iu t: lull 1'// /»(./r /» H'! ,1 It \tli nj vupfun tu ihe iKatlAml tm . lU yin'iit . anJ my /iiruJilAn j^o/ina tt ) In innu \»nr ficl 
WIkm main. |iople rhtnk ol du beginnings of hip-lK»j\ they head back to the Sugarhdl Gangs Rapper n IXIiglu." 

a l^-mimtte jam k|uoted alvive whose "Ho-tcl, mo-tel. Holulay bin relrain ilrtAv dancers wdd bat k in SeptemlKT 

V)'*^). That ivasfi t the hrst rap' record, howwcr The honor giKs to l-jtback Dand s ' kmg Tim III. whuh was 

releasivl earlier iliat same year Says Pebbles Riley, aka Pebblee-P<H>. («ie of hip-liops hrst female vtKaliscs. I started 

III ~K. a'ul I was iletinuel\ hearing people rapping at bl(Kk parties in '76. '7"' " Ami. act-oniing to Ralph Mlandshaw. 

aka V.iii Silk, \\W\ was oiu ot tin music's earliest, most ardent party promoters, \*ou toukl hear mobile tlee|ays. die 

rhuhnui lounders ol hip-hop. in New Yirk City parks as early as \'^)~'\. Hnim Trviiig to pin ,. ..vnv. ■■ .-^ mm •■« •! 


By Harry Allen 


H I P 





down ( lart time lor hip-hop ii, u RUN- 
D M.C. would jay, trickji 

Andrei L. Strobert, t Brooklyn-based 
ichoUt, musician and artist , says that to 
get to the real roots of hip-hop, you have 
to go b«ck even farther than "King Tim 
111," mobile deejays, Pigmeat Maikham. 
or slavery — say. to the Yoruba people of 
Nigeria, or the Nago of Dahomey (now 
Benin). "TV scratch that you hear in hip- 
bop is similar to the African uktri" says ' 

^tobett. 'A Ititri is a big gourd with 
beads around it. If you think about 

^•ciatcfaiitg, you see how it oormeax, 'Cause, 

from Douglas "Jocko" Henderson, the Last 
Poets attd Parliaotcnt/FutJcadelic. Even- 
tually youll wind up in a place where 
three Black guys called RUN-D.M.C 
sell more than 3 million copies of Raiting 
HU...tni four white guys called the 
' Beastie Boys, after being coached by those 
three Black guys, sdl (oanwuiDON mcs IM] ' 


■ Below are the hypest of the hype, records 
to start listening to the music with or to >^ 
round out a collection. The ones marked | 





80 E! 


U Ttta a Usttm if HiBmm u HiU Ui &«i. 

Public Enetny 

/■ F*lt Cttr. ScRsnook CToounr Bajr) 
FMmi At L-Jir, Elk B. & Rikim (Uni): 
bectcf ;«, cfaeif <kba(, Psid is Fmll 
Sirialj BmimBi. EFMO (Skcptag Bag) 
. Htm YsLUtMt Nav, Kaol Moe Dec Qiie) 
A Ml Citi « Dm^ P^. Sdt-o-Pcpa; 
btaa ytt. thai 6ibut. Hi, Cml&Vidmi 
HtitkiD.J.. rmiiiZttttr. D.J. J«ny Jeff* 

Che Fcoh Prince (J"*) 
Slni^ •« litjarn^, Junf le Bnxfaen 

•n> CiM> AJtmun tfSUdk Rkk (Def J«nO 
'MmtStmtin'. 2 Lhc Crew 

(Luke Skrrwilker) 
•Pmv, Icc-T (Sue) 
'Esif-Da-U. Enr-E (Priority) 
-Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)." MC Lyte 

(Fi»t Priority) 
"Can't C}et Enough/All Rappea Gin Up," 

Black by Detnand CTomnir Boy) 
"Gieatetl Man Alhw." Thf« Timet Dope 

ain't nothin' but . 

ttK,itie%atKhasbksbk-tbkibk-tbk.The ; with a star contain some off-color material. 
'0dat¥>aoi a basically the same thing. ?■ With that, consider youiself warned, indjrl 
Lllappers .<come to my ttudio to record '^- get busy. :>,f% 

^lyAms that they waijt to use to their .if J >;.•.;.■.; - • i -sf 

?ihymes;TA kx of the rhythms that they W^ 
%ase are Ibo rhythms, from the Ibo tribe ,i; 

*• Rr all African musk:, inichiding African- : 
VAmericao music, rhythm is the key, the 

point of entry. The only way you couU 

get us to pay attentkm to and kwe some- 
thing as fundamentally antimusical as a 

turntable scratch was to make it fimky, 

•ttd in this is hip-hop's genius. I believe 

that this concept of "funky" is die dividing 

liije beti«en people of Afrkan descetu, 

people of non-African clcscent, and our 

respective art traditions. That is to say, 

Picasso copied ^ffai African art, but he 

iCouUn't tnake his painting "Gtiitar" »»- 
;>rf«F» near as funky as a Dogon mask. The 
'■'difierence between the late Jimi Hendrix 

and an acre of white rock guitarists was 

fimk. Ehns was kjud, but he was never 

fimky. Little Richard's "Rip It Up" still 

does. Knowfaumsayin? 

"Cocir tbe'D' is jtr 'Jarngmus'lYom can 

amc tnd pi umt tf tbisll Uad) anJ ipeak u 

tubta it's ^(Jtt it's mjoUTbt ^a cf Choice; 

the pUa shakes ttiith basslGt <me Jor the trttU 

The rhythm is the trbd!" 

lb get from the Ybruba Nation to Public 

Enemy's "Louder Than a Bomb," quoted 

above, you have to jet through 400 not- 
so-hot years in America. Stop just king 
enough to hear early forms of rapping 

T R 

For all its immense popularity, rap music 
is still very much a man's v»orld. Women 
are buying the records, but by and large 
they aren't on them nor are they pro- 
ducing them — though as the music pro- 
gresses, that's beginning to change. 
Women rap artists such as Princesa 
(Criminal/WTG), Salt-n-Pepa (Next Pla- 
teau) and The Real Roxanne (Seic ;) are 
excited about getting on the mike and 
on vinyl; for the moment, issues of creative 
and financial autonomy are; a back- 
seat. Don't expect these wo-nen to ad- 
dress sexism directly. Much as we might 
like them to. that's not happening — yet. 
As a popular art form that, like stand- 
up comedy, draws inspiration from "out- 
law" oral traditions such as pimp toasts, 
prison doggerel and urban childhood's 
"dirty dozens." rap is accepted by its 
practitioners — male and female — as the 
most brutally honest form of self- 
expression possible. 

"Rap is cultural," says Princesa. whose 
first records came out on Arthur Baker's 
Criminal/WGT label only this winter, 
despite the fact that she has been writing 
and producing her own raps for three 
years. "I grew up with it, and it's here 
to stay. But when I started making and 
shopping my own upes as a teen, because 
I thought the things other people wanted 
to produce on me were too commercial, 
the male label owners were very unre- 
ceptive. I spoke to people at Uptown 
Enterprises, at Next Plateau, Sleeping 
Bag, Reality... I made the rounds. Only 
when I led them to believe that a man 
had written or produced my stuff did 
they show interest." 

Along the same lines, when Roxanne 
Shante defended the skeezer's (groupie's) 
low-slung lifestyle on Rick James's 
"Loosey's Rap," she was just doing a job. 
Female rappers are often invited to par- 
ticipate in a statement devised by a male 
artist and expected to contribute 
"something appropriate." As profes- 
sionals, these girls deliver what is asked, 
get paid and get credit — relatively ob- 
livious to how that participation might 
be perceived by others. 

"There are a lot of rhymes we write 
on our album, but we don't go for the 
credit," admits Cheryl James (Salt). o| 
platinum rap duo(co~TiNLiDi)xpAui inj 



ftom hira about how stupid TV really is; 
instead he says of the show, "1 cannot 
ipeak for all Black people, so Im availing 
mysdf of evety resource at my disposal so 
we have a chaoce to look ar the worU 
through brown eja for at least a few 
minutes every week on prime-time 

He's aUo usiiig his newfound ckxit to 
the point cf insisting that people of color 
be part of the show's creative aixl devel- 
opment sta£ Among the resources he's 
ising are the show's Biack writer-producer 
team, L. Travis Clark and Steve DuiKan, 
who created Tour if Duty foe CBS, and 
Black diiectcrs Scan Laihan and Bill I>jke, 
who each directed episodes this season. 
Says Clark, "V^ think this is a break- 
through series. I bdieve that for the first 
time in the history of television we have a 
snong Black male lead who will interact 
with other Black people. With other shows 
with a Black lead, ^w'U have maybe one 
or two episodes out of 22 with a Black 
story tine. Ybu never see him with any 
cultvual nuances; he becomes a white person 
in a Black skin. That won't happen here. 
I think this show will succeed, but even 
if' it doesn't, they shoukl try others. You 
newr hear oerwxk executives saying they're 
not going to do any mere white shows, 
even though the majority of those shows 
are canceled every year. We need the same 

Neither dark nor Duncan knew Brooks 
before A Man Called Hawk began, but 
Clark now says of his series star, "My only 
heroes were the guys I fought with in 
Southeast Asia, but now I've gx>t a new 
hero. This man [Brooks] is extraordinary. 
He's a learned individual, he cares about 
Black people, and be pushes us to the 
limit. I'm so impressed with him. We 
just clicked from the moment we met." 

Brooks's intelligence and eagerness haw 
also taken Hawk bi \xyon^ what his creator 
imagined for him. Robert Parker, author 
of the enormously papular series of mystery 
oovds on which Spoon: For Htrt was based, 
was quoted in The Boston Clobt Magaziru 
as saying that Hawk is "the dark side of 
Spenser" He adds, "Hawk's more practical 
than Spenser. Like any minority figure, 
he has learned the necessity of practicality. 
I only know a little bit about Hawk. That 
sounds like coy-writer bullshit, but it's 
true. 1 can otily see him through Spenser's 
eyes." Brooks took some elements from 
the character as first written (the bald 
head, the few words, the big gun), but 
went much further with it, giving him 
new richness and education both from 

books ai>d from the street. "The darker 
side, in my case, is the brighter fide," 
fays Brooks. "1 made myself up in terms 
of the chaiactei, or at least the culture 
made him up. Robert Parker, bless his 
heart, CDuU fiever reach or find the things 
I know by virtue of my presetKe on the 
planet." And, he adds, the character will 
go further still in the new series: "The 
enigma atxl the mystery will remain. But 
because this character lives between fi»ct 
and fictkn, we will discjss the past, unravel 
pieces, just so «c can engage the workl." 
OM as it is outside, and though it's 
canforrabie in the trailo; Brooks is oeecU 
on the set again. But to one final question: 
What's he going to do once Hawk has 
had his tun? he replies, "Hawk was nuuiing 
before this and will run after. He pms in 
the culture; he is alive like tlut. After 
Hawk, I'll go where I need to go." ♦ 

Martha SmtbgaU is arts tmd eMtertaJmrnatt 

editor cf^ Essence. 

Addttimal r^onitig by C. Ctrald Frastr. 


(Joseph House, St. Croix) 

I shall miss this house 

with its open windows 

where scabreezes rush in 

to mount cathedral ceilings 

and gently waft down 

like so many canebnkes rustling. 

Where the morning song 

of an islaixl bird teaches 

berween the cracks of dusk 

to scold me awake. 

I shall miss this house 

of sweet hibiscus and salt air 

whose demure fiag ranees 

lace like sea 6>ns into the quiet winds 

tempting roc to taste 

again and again. 

— IRMA McClaurin 

Ccfiynght O I9S8 by Imw McO«irio K^pnntcd fnm dv 
book PimrCi Smt, p^bhed bjr Land Press. DnnMt. Mjch. 


• comj/vjtO from poft BO 

4 million copies of LicemeJ to III. 'Vbu've 
entered ... the twilight zone, the point 
where this very African art "is being ac- 
cepted by middle America, ' in the words 
of Hurby Azoi; producer of miilion-seiling 
crew Salt-n-Pepa. "That's one of the big- 
gest developments. The white people are 
gettin' into it now. Which is funny. The 
music business is always interested in the 
white people." 

And vice versa. White music critics 
and cultural historians are talking about 

hip-hop and find themselves tossing kmg, 
funny words into the air to describe it. 
Words like defomlriiaioii, approprialioa^ 
ioHography and m me a it al rzatioa. But those 
wmls have little to do with the way Afiican- 
American people live or make music, and 
hip-hop is no more or less than Black life 
on black vinyl. Whatever one finds in the 
community, they'll find in the records. 
This has a kx ro do with why it's so 
attractive to some people and repulsive to 

Foe African-Americans, especially young 
people, the music is a minoc These aren't 
cheap records," says Nat Robinson, pres- 
ident 01 MC Lyie's label, Fiist Prnriry 
Music. "These are natural records." Hip- 
bop calks like us; it's tooced in African- 
American wordplay, like "snapping" or 
"the dozens." Ic ooovcs like us. It homes 
in like ladar on our "musiculnuar values. 
Rhythm. Call attd response. Repetitioa. 
Reioterpretation of original kieas via im- 
provisarioo. The iroice as instrument, and 
as rhythmic atxl tonal kieal. And other 

"Rappen tail a st^ tadt er you will sem 
rcgnt that yam ever had to amfromt me and 
you can ha that I came correct perfca in full 
i^tDixmma diaea eject as I wrecklSbopI 
Stand in comwtand with the doMlCarauan or 
iand/Vt go man for man. . 

Hip hop speaks to a view of life that 
is expressly communal in nattue. In Africa, 
there are cultures with musical categories 
solely for the praise ef friends, (oc instance. 
When Big E>addy KztK etxls the elastic 
"Set It Oft" quoted above, by naming 
more than 30 friends one at a time, when 
Kool Moe Dee turns the names of his 
neighborbotxi crew into exultant, defiant 
poetry on "Wikl WiU Wfest," when Public 
Enemy thanks 240-plus people and groups 
oo the crew's liner ntxes, that's African. 
That's "posse," "brotherhood," "com- 
munity" being expressed on the terms of 
African-American young people. 'I say 
the names of my posse to Vxk out for 
'em, to acknowledge that they do exist," 
admits 19-year-old Dana Ov«ns, aka 
Latifih, who thanks the R.E. (Ram En- 
terprise) Posse on her fluid, funky single, 
"Wrath of My Madness/Princess of the 
Posse," quoted bekjw. "Had it not been 
lor them, I probably wouldn't have even 
started in this. Yoa Vnov wttat I'm saying?" 

"l-ray/The lesson cf todaylYou baxe to listen 
to each and every single word I have to say 
hecausdThe Ruler Lord Ramsey is on my sidd 
And I'm the Princess of the Posse lo, yo. .. take 
it light..." 

So. yo. Why is hip-hop so hype? What 
are those millions of rappers and record 
buyers really getting out of it? Fab 5 


114 ESSfNCE • APRJL 1989 



Freddy, cohost of MTV'i (Ooh! now it's 
t,:r>) hip-hop video show Ya.' MT\' Rapi! . 
p^jts it like this: "There's sum'r. in hip- 
hip that milces it good, that you can'' 
rvrn rtally morti, because a kx o' hip-hoji 
IS about attitude, feelitig and $r)le, as 
opposed to musical viituosiry as we know 
it, deal;r>g with Western forms of music. 
Like L.L. (UxA J said, when you bear i 
good hip-hop record, you make that/i.f. 
youknowhurasayin'? You hear a regular 
recoexl, you just go, Teah, that's pretry 
gcKxJ.' But when you hear a good hip-hop 
reotrd, you inakc that tee like, "ifivital-'' " 

"Flowim' in fdt uith the mew ityldBumli 
art cUantd then lacuieJ jor ialutelChanien 
with the choice stafuJing iUaJj like my mot/tty- 
piati Paragraph preacher ii mow inXndttcedl 
Drums art heard sounMng off im each and 
ever J persmlMxal cmfexti ii thrvum at top 
itage/Raia and violas arem'l proper /or tbmimg 
for ihowimg in apprtdalion (uiby?)IThis ii 

Lisren to "Plug Tunin' ," above, by the 
trio De La Soul, or to almost any cut fiom 
their 3 Feet High and Ruing You'll make 
that face alt album kxig But some think 
that when people hear a good hip- hop 
record, they do other things. Like stick 
chemicals up their noses, snatch gold 
chains, tajnpage arxl even kill, if you're 
talking about the murder of Julio Furntes 
at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum on Sep- 
tember 10, 1988 Ask rbe usually serene 
Laiifah what the most common miscon- 
ception about hip-hop is, arvd you touch 
a nerve. "Definitely that it's vitilent, tlur 
it s a burnrh t>f hcxxJlums and nondescripts 
making records about bullshit. That we 
can't put (Xit a goddamn positive message. 
If they took a second to listen to the 
words, then they wtxild kiK>w that wasn't 
the case." 

Word The fact is that drugs arxJ crinxr 
live in our rtjmmunities. Their habiration 
iliere predates the music called hip-hop. 
These ills have less to do with Schoolly D 
calling his album Smoke Some Kill than 
tlKy do with ""iie gCMrmment drug-f>gging 
with Manuel Noriega, They have less to 
do with becpeT-canyit^g brothers than they 
ck") with the U.S. banks and other mul- 
cinaticxials fcx which wc work. These cor- 
porations know that dtug mtxiey is the 
only thing that'll keep a flow of American 
dollars going into the debt-ridden Latin 
American countries they lend to. 

To say that hip-hop is surrounded by 
vK>icrKe and drug use sourxls like a caprivr 
African blaming work songs and field hol- 
lers for the perpetuation of slavery, don't 
)i.iu think^ Hip-bop is descnptiNT and 

APKll 1961 ♦ CSfrJCC 117 

olicn attempts to be prescriptive. Alrican- 
Ameiican people are, again, using music 
lo make sense of and mediation ftx our 

Ho»rver, there is certainly one real 
problrm. Hip hop has taken a rap f(M 
being sexist. Ir is. When Ice-T rekases a 
record calked 'Girls, La's On Butt Naked 
and Fuck" ("Girls, L.G.B.N.A F" on 
the album ctTvcr), when 2 Live Crew on a 
cut called "S & M" calls to women to 
bring rheit "d— k-$ucking frieivls, " when 
Ultramagnetic M.C. s Kool Keith on "Gi^T: 
the Drununer Some" talks about smacking 
up hts bitch in the manner of a pimp, 
sisters utvierstandably scream. Hip-hop 
IS senist. It is also frank. 

As I txjce tt>ld « lister, hip-hop lyrics 
are, among other things, what a kx of 
Black men say about Black women when 
Black women aren't aroutvl. In this sense, 
the music is no mcxe or less sexist than 
your fathers, brtxhers, husbands, friends 
arxl ItTvcrs, ar>d, in iiiany trases, nyxe up- 
front. As an ut»cnir»gly precise refletrwo 
oC&e community, hip-hop's sexist thinking 
will change when the communiry changes. 
Because women are rhe txtes best able to 
define sexism, they will have to challenge 
the music — tell it how to change and 
make it change — if change is to come 
Only then will record companies cease the 

lek-asc ol luts llui call Im biKli-siiLuKiiLj; 

"liini coiiU I keep my eompoiurr/Vt'/xn all 
soni of thiMf^hts fjuj^ht fjr expcturr/' 

Hip ho|> IS here to stay As Eiic Ii tc 
Rakim note in their "Musical Massacre " 
above, the music is bursting with idc-as 
It IS, says Kay Gee The All from liie 
seniirjl crew Cold Crush Brothers, "up- 
to-dare music."" and it speaks to a clunge 
in the •I'ay we scxialize arvj get our music 
When Billboard, the bible of the music 
industry, began its charts in the 19'iOs, 
they tallied sales of sheer music Today 
they tally rccords-by-ethniciry. compact 
discs and videos. That reflects a huge 
change in the way we get music and think 
about It Sodocasseues. almost twnexBtent 
20 years ago So does a Walkman, non- 
existent ten years ago Music we choose 
goes where we do Says master pcrrusskxiist 
and composer Max Roach in New York 
hkwuJay. music used to go where wr did 
in another way. "When I was growing up 
in Bedford-Stuyvesant [Brooklyn], there 
was always an instrument a student coukl 
take home from school; if astudenr wanred 
ro study rheroric, be coukd. Thats all 
been wiped txit; out urban centers are in 
shambles "" 

How are you going ro get kids to read 
music if they cant read? ""These kids were 

(coNnNutDOW rMUl I I9J 

Loul«l«n«CmiceotTourlam/P O Boi 94291 / Dept 424 DslooBouge LA 70604-929 



9 antinuod fivn pogt 1 17 

never exposed to poets ot playwrights in 
school," cxxitinues Roach. "They had ill 
this ulent, ti>d they had no instruments. 
So they started rap music. They rhymed 
on that own. They made thetr own sounds 
and their own movements." 

I oxildn't have said it any bettet Why 
hasn't this hip-hop "hd" died out.' The 
same teason »e haven't. If nothing else, 
hip-hop speaks most direaly to Aftican- 
American pride aixi sense of self, dilutes 
of the American mess, our history, the 
things VK lade and, ultimately, hope Hope 
that people without the bene& of a omunon 
musical language, articulated by bais, sta£ 
and bass clefs, will come up with one oo 
their own, made from the stuff of their 
lives. Hope that, rot at least a moment, 
an average Joe-Ski from around the way 
will have his place in the spotlight. Hope 
that *r survive and prosper as a people 
into the rswnty-first century and beyond. 
We will. It prtxnises to be a iertxrraus, 
funky future. ♦ 

Harry Allen, hi/f-bop aahnst and ntdia ai- 
uuiin. is tbt first wriur m this mute to gmii 
up with it. 

Gtiii liiiMiii FlMh iMd Ak FiMWMB Rw. ~nK hiemaf.' i qauMui 
bf pnrnaaaB «tf SMC*rfiiil Inmb. p>odk^*d bf Sj liw KflbMMM. 
O^iTTigtM C n92 SugartuU Ga^. 't^^pa* DdiflM.' itpnaard 
bf penniMjan of SvjMtaU Iccm^. pio^arri b; S j tiM l iJ u w w . 
Ov<rnf bi O 19T9 Pub4K E«nif: 1.owd(i riaa ■ BobA.- i tp iiMt J 
b)r p(TroiM«)n ti Of Anmcaa Sca,^. lac . C K,drahouL E Sadki 
H SbadUcc. «T«m Capp\f\» O rW8 "Vorii id arf Uaivrmi 
PuMTW «/ dK Bmm.- wnnra bf tlwM OatvJUaA >*nn Oto^ 
ASCAP) Ofvnchi O 1988 T-Bor »4jk hdUM^. Uc CASCAPV 
lUfVuKrd by pcrmnHO, AH n^bn h i mwJ Iimi iimiii — I H4 iT l nb« 
wnwtd ~r\v% TuMD ~ vT«(<n by Kdvwi Mnnt/Diwl ^lOxaL 
Ofirt,Cbt O I9fl8 T<;«l Muuc fwblaluai. Ik (AMI) lt<pn«ad 
by pmai w All n^hn K i u*tl laMr«M«Md Coppiffat Secwed. 
e» B* lUkiM M,M. Ik (BUI) Ovp^b, O I9«8 


9 tiwWMim if fiviy pogt 80 

Salt-n-Pepa. "And 1 guess we should, 
because people are on this kick about 
why we don't write. It doesn't bother us, 
but it bothers us that it bothers other 
people. Most singers don't wtite all their 
own lyrics, either, and nobody cares about 
that. I guess because Hurby Azor is our 
producer, manager and one of our song- 
writers, it gives the impression that he 
has total control. But we all got into this 
business together, it's like a family. And 
if he ever came up with a song or a video 
cotKept we didn't want to do, we wouldn't 
do it." 

Most contemporary tap women (comitig 
along in a time when rap is so much 
more ptofltable than it was for theu sistet 
pioneers of five ot six years back) are 
philosophical about the intemecine name- 
calling and cross-gender "dissing " that 

sometimes make it into the gtxxtvcs. None 
of them seem to think that "explicit" ot 
sexist lytics are harmful in and of them- 
selves, and all of them are aware that 
there is a definite cash-money fandom 
out there fot dirty talk. The Puerto Rican 
rapper. The Real Roxanne, co-wtote her 
single "Respect" around that very di- 
lemma. The Real Roxanne has felt pressure 
toward "propriety " both from within and 
as the young mother of an articulate first- 
gtader: "Girls disrespecting each other 
on stage is just not me; not the image I 
want to ptomote. But at the beginning, 
with all the Roxanne answer records attd 
all these girls coming (xiscage to challenge 
me at>d each other, my prtxduction com- 
pany back then who'd had the otiginal 
'Roxuuie' concept had to show them what 
time it was!" Roxanne laughs. 

"Now, with my first album out, I hear 
that [fellow rapper] MC Lyte has started 
in on me. I hear that she has a girl dressed 
like me in one of her videos and has 
something to say. Oh boy, " she gtins 
wtyly, "sounds like fiin." 

Because rap ptides itself on staying 
thematically true to the African-American 
experience in America today, it srands to 
reason that every issue — good or bad — 
that manifests itself in our communiries 
will eventually be exposed in a rap forum. 
In the case of normally touchy subjects 
such as sex, sexism, racism, crime, VD, 
homophobia and light-skin privilege, a 
rap dialogue may be the only discussion 
cettain youngsters evet have on these 
subjects If so, pethaps we ought to take 
advantage of rap's daring to start the 
discussion, so that we, as knowledgeable 
adults, can finish it. — CAROL COOPER 


Never afraid! 
Never silent! 

Never, oh never weaty! 

But always bold 

with continuing shouts of liberation 

Always, oh Always full of power! 

Never "negro "! 
Never inferior! 

Never, oh r>ever ashamed! 

But Always, oh Always proud 
kiving to be 
this child 
of Africa! 

— Nicole M. moore 

OoptngU O 1988 by Nxok M Man 

APRIL 1989 • ESSENCE 1 1» 

EXT. 51 

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Falling Hair Problems 

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"3i Yfcrs of Expenence and Reitarch" 

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IW NoMrtruJ Avf . Brooklyn N Y 11226 


16 r«k. 17-23, ttu 


The New Jazz 

V Hmitj ADM 

WhMwp, ftIL Thit ttxhttm lintillmwil of tht 
■tack Bw. t »wMUy oobaia oa Up^op (vktl moM 
ptopta can "np") Buic, pnpta, tla. nihun, what' 
wwpopiiaianjrbad, tad oiktr ntaud tad untatM 

SoBM auattt t«o, wkaa I Int qiok* lA Ma«ttia( 
Ediiar UuImC Laid (a nf* drf doM typt poxa; 
y«a ikculd !•( u kaw kar If >«• oa) abeu wrillai 
a Up4Kv for Ika 5m kar bailc Rply wu Moa 
ouBboCobuBbojaa^ tboat )m folk aot baiaf la- 
lanaud la iha ubjao. Tlaia ptoad, IkoualiU van 
achtniad, tad Ika nub it thit ooliuna, uabn. I 
xUavc, la a BUck-ovaed paWlfiilna bgr a toa of tk* 
ravohuioa. Mt Laid tad i ktn workad ctocly oa tkU, 
lad I'M kaaa iHartd tkti Vm yieaa |at u uy tka 
tkia|> tkti and w ba laid. Oood. 

Fm daiai ikU cotiuna tor Ikraa laaioei: aioaay, 
XBXia tad uspcMranataL Moaay it * givaa. Tka 
xktr two u«Ct b«> an iaucraipad. For ika paopla, 
iktn art tkiafi 1 waaaa lay Klxkout tooM wUia ptnoa 
Mkiof 0««r aiy ikouldar, oclamlalaf tka tlaitltbla of 
ay Biirmimii, thck ooaiaal, ikapt, daplk, or poUlio, 
jr tenia' paid for my afldcu (puUithiaf U pnlv 

Tka Bion y«u kaow, Ika (nar yoa tat, tka Bon y«a 
aa da Youat Black paepla wko laad Ikii oaiuaa «iB ' 
can tboiu Ika auuic. tkaa taka tioa la nad akoat 

■ K««fcViii«i>lil»kltttliiiii«ttkw««kkltci<yt«f 
tit^twMlM IV <nckkttdt tl Ika T7ik Pradaet tad 
Ika isaa^uaan ai tka 1061k. Oldat Black paopU «IU 
nad Ikk, tkaa laka Ika liaM 10 talk lo tkalr yeuai 
paopla tbom «ktt tkay^r* litnad. Tkal't wbal tka 
nppan do. wUck It wky loait yeuof paopla pltoa 
nan (Uka la Ika »«di of Rua-DJilC tkaa ikoaa of 
Ikalr own ptraaii. 

Tka traaimlitloa of ciUiun U pawa>, baby. Pun, 
ilaipla tad unifktmp. 


You kaow tkla: Africaa-Anwrieta blood U ifca fual 
of Amaiicta oilikL Wan It aot for npa aad kidatp- 
pla( aad lanontt acu oonnnliliid tftiati African 
vbaa Eiir^paaai biimoukad tka •o<allad Now 
World, Aaarict wold aavar ktva btd aaau|k mutcla 
10 enau lualf, bulldlai lu uptrurueuin tad d*' 
««lop<af Ik* catk crap— sooaa— tkti intitd lu tUdk 
lata atodaralty tad tka vortd aitrkatptae*. Whiiti 
aoold UIU ba Mand of uwaloaa, would itUl ba dyiaf 
Ilka Ilea fraa taiaUpox. aad would uili ba laUaa tU 
»tak> 10 1«< lliair nitQ. Look ia your kluary boob If 
you doa'i kaow wkti Ikti aMtat. 

AfrlcafrAoMilcaa mule it tka Unuf of Ancrlcaa 
auuic la botk MtM of tka word— iha fcrct bakiad it 
at wall l» wktl tvtrytody tlu b tryloi to tat lo 
Witkoul our fiuky batti, Jlp, kymu tad niauau 
would todtr rula tka Aiaarlcaa Top Forty. Mutictl 
laaontioa la Amaricaku tlwtyt beta daliueaKd by 
tha Black diwafraacklKd— dealuai of Uia Batlt 
Siraatt. Cooia S^uana tad Ouo Hill Hoadt of Aaw 

Bat oa 10 fclp-kop, pnpcr, Pm of tka opiaioa tkat 
tkota looUaf for aaw daniopoaau la Black muti* 
ilMuid suit lookiat lo Wyaloa klanaUi aad nan 
lookiat to Marlay ktoiL *Tka tklai tkall aatattaf." 
' ■ay>On*u*ODlintaalUrkatila|oa*«f Jk*dJ.'i 
aaiaaiUaa, *% tkai ta of Ika no aaiia . ^. kat aiada 
Ika rkytka Ik* atlodX) Tka rkytta it w Hfoaf." Hip- 

Hop la Tka Ntw Jan. tka noct lifaiaeaat miuleai 
itataaiaal la tka laooad kalf of ibli caauuy, I n ciiKl I ni 
rack 'a' rail ona. baeauta It'i w Black: iwo, bccauw 
U'l yooaf; aad tkna, bactuM, for tbaar musical fcrac- 
Uy, II eoU-waits amYtkioi cUa. 

Today, tka annfe Black youni pcttoa trowinf up 
la tka Scutk Brau. Ika leaanlly iccaplad binliplace 
of tiili muilc, formi no ImjnadUu ralaiiontbip with t 
baiOo, uxophcoc or mimpct. So li imounu lo moctly 
'wilbful UUiiklot to believe thai they would adopt chcu 
iattnunsau tj ihcir tools of melodic, harmonic and 
rhythraic upresslon. 

Bui cvarybody has records and everybody has i 
racord pUyer. Everybody fan niau lo Ihese Ihinp. So 
It's la/i 10 Ike woof of inese African-American minds 
10 warp Ikcsa musle makan— ihcsa togs, bows and 
baa)oi of Ikair atiilaacaa— into Ike Implamaau of 
tkalr owa aaw musical visioo. Tkroufk kip-hop, usia| 
Ufa-tluir, Bliok taaiMtara kava made a musical lUla- 
mant and bafua tka craaiioe of a musical laatua(a oa 
Ikair own larmt. This is a maanlnfful trst in tka history 
of Ika Amarieaa beU. 

Uadanlaad my eomparisoa of hip-kop with Jazz. 
Than Is ao way I will compart ihe artistry of John 
Coitraaa to that of Bl| Daddy Kane— ytu There is also 
ao need lo. I love ike work of both trtisu and |ei 
differaai Ihinp (aad iha same thin|S) from them. 

I'm lalkiai about Jazz's spptrtni failura lo meet t 
sodtl Bced, t place in Ihe lives of Ihe Black youth 
'movint into Ika 2 1 it. Some people uy ibai when jazz 
became a "downtown" music, when ii became i music 
that Black people would no longer donci to, ii became 
that "somethioi eUe" to iu former coosiiiuency. Some 
hlam* lelcyisloB and radio. What do you uy? 

la Ihe CManlime. I uy with hip-hop there's an 
azlaaalM of tradiiioo. Hip-hop, Uka Jazz. Is Black 
auuic; tka aiaiodic, karmonic, rhythmic essences of 
Black lirlat. tkoufhl, and beef— made up by Blacks, 
Improvad tpoa by Blaakt, rejected by onttla Blacks 
tad wkitai, laeaplad la aoiotioaal tad bmocuo' tads 
C o a lliiu ad oa Pag* 20 

Continued from Page 16 

by many whites. L ike jazz before it. hip-hop arose froir. 
the dreams of an underclass. Like jazz in its various 
periods, most of the people who make hip-hop know 
diiii-ioctalize with each other. Like jazz before it, hip- 
hop values improvisation, repetition, individual in- 
terpretation and expression and the primacy of ihe 
voice as an insirumenl and lonal ideal Like jazz, it 
values ;he reinterpreation of original musical ideas to 
Its own end. via cuttin' and scratchin'. Like jazz, its 
stuff IS the par'.icular ideas, imagery and things of its 
audience, the youth who maintain culturally psychic 
connections with Billie, Miles, Max and Diz 

Also, like jazz, hip-hop's innovators were often 
knocked to the wayside, either by their own stupidity, 
their blind drive for fame, their lack of experience and 
business sense, or by out-for-mine record label owners. 
only to often watch less-talented successors succeed 
Like jazz did initially, hip-hop suffers from Black 
boojie disdain. (As homeboy Bill Stephney said to me 
once, "1 knew rap was starting to get over when I 
started seeing buppies coming to the gigs.") Though it 
IS now a sign of "culture" among certain Negroes to 
admit a fondness for jazz, initially jazz was not seen as 
an art embodying the highest of human values. 
African-American sensibilities, or formal expressions 
that splatter European concepts of music It wasn't the 
type of things you bragged about listening to li was 
just nigger-noise 

As then, it's a shame thai many Black people 
despise hip-hop. the creation of their own blood When 
Black kids come home saying, "Mommy, look whai I 

piade!" holding up a scribbled •■,:ul rhyme. "Gci thai 
noise away from mel" has more often than not been the 
reaction. Individually and collectively, ihe result is as 
divisive as trashing the proverbial first drawing in from 
of the proverbial first-grade While Blacks go through 
this self-hate thing, whites make much money olTof the 
form through records, movies, videos, books, clothes 
etc They did it with jaz/ They continue lo do it with 

Thus, the biggest error of media aicnues such av 
Black 'Enterprise. Ebony, Essence I he Atnsierdani 
!\'ews. The Cil} Sun. L:ke li Is and the people for 
whom they speak was to regard the phenomenon ol 
hip-hop as an aberration rather than like the Pan II ii 
really is. Whatever you think of the music, it comes oui 
of the river of Africa-America, flowm' and grow-in 
with a passion. It comes out of yuu Whatever you 
think of The New Jazz, every one of you knows 
someone who understands it and (/i.i;.v a for this reason 
alone, it is part of your Black life This paper needs lu 
deal with it. will deal with it. and \ '.ill need lo with 

Until then, I'd like to lca\e mhi " iih mpiik- ilnuichi- 
on all of this from M.i.v Plaiuk. niiuinauu ..' ihi 
quantum theory; 

A ne'n scientific truth does nut Irnmipli h' cm- 
vincing its opponents and making iheni see the 
light, but rather because us opponents evin- 
lually die out, and a ne^- generation gro-^s up 
that is familiar with it 

Questions, comments and/or suggestions'' Send 
them to: Harry Allen. The Black Box, c/o The Cits 
Sun. GPO Box 560, Brooklyn, NY 1 1202 


If You Think Rap Is Violent, What About Booze? 

' Barry AlUn^ 'uf^^^foUs . 
himMtfa Hip^xit ActiaUt ' 
md Umiia Asmttbi^-U th* / 
tUrtdor of mmtyTdationt ^ \i 
for tht rap froup PubUa. ' 
Entmy. ThU u oaapud from an o/ticU thai 
appmirtd tn Tht City Sun. 

By Harry Allen 

IF THE BLACK PEOPLE who mv\A^ Inner 
City Broadcaftin^ ((rwrten or radio fution 
WBLS in New York). r»dio lUtion KACE m 
Lo« Anfclea. uid other urban media companies ore 
■e intereatad in prtKecting their listening audi- 
ence* from violence, miaogyny and prorantty — aa 
they thould be. and ai they recently aajd they were 
when ihey banned certain aongi — why do they 
fUll accept advertifing from hquor manufacturer!, 
ecpecially malt-tiquor ad'ertiAinK and promote 
lh(9M: produAa for money'* 

'Violence'"' The uae 
of the drug aicohol hai 
been anentiftcaUy and 
•ignificanUy connected 
to a hoit of illi that 
plague black people: 
murder: job abtentee- 
lam and unemploy- 
ment, low birth 
weight. abnormalitteB 
and retArdation in in- 
fanta, liver ajid heart diaeaae. poor academic 
performance: fires, hometeaanets: aa weU aa ris- 
ing inodences of cancer and AiDS More than 
18 million US adulu have aigniricanl alcohol- 
related problem! Twenty percent of all hospitAJ 
coau. 46.000 trWTic-crash deathi and 534.000 in- 
/unet annually, one-third of all drowning and 
boat deaths. 64 percent of all people convicted of 
vioieni cnmes. 20 to 36 perceni of all suiades. 
and the ma^nty of rapes and assaults in the 
United Stales arv dirrctly alcohol -related 

'Misogyny" and "'profanity'"' Though pro- 
gram directors might find no official statistics to 
venfy this, ask female members of your audi- 
ence how high the " — you. bitch'" -count goes 
after their mate dnnks s high-aJcohol "G. Heile- 
man Brewing Co . La Croaae. Wisconsin." prod- 
uct You know — like Coll 45 Ask how many 
have gotten hit after their man took s hit from 
one of your most lucrative advertisers' products 
T^ien reread the U S Department of Health and 
Human Services. U S Department of Justice. 
L' S Department- of Tranaponation. Census Bu- 
reau and Centers for Disease Control figures 
oted abo\-e. and weep The soaal cosu of alco- 
hol related problems are more than S85 billion 
and 105.000 deaths per yt^ That's nearly twice 
the number of "Amencans" who died in Viet- 

\Ik) pleAM* drtn'l pve us th«l "our product. 

when us«d in moderation" line, tither. Approxi- 
mately II of aocia] cosU is craatad for fvery re- 
tail doUar tpent on alcoholic beverages. In other 
words, this stufT is literally useUu. 

Meanwhile, the use of hip-hop has been acien- 
liTically connected to well, nothing but the 

use of hip>hop So whom in the world are Black 
media people really trying to protecf Their au- 
dience'' Or their stations' low ratings, low shares 
and wealthy, white big-ticket-item advertisers, 
especially the ones who pay more for an adult 
Black audience th«n they do for the Block tc-cn- 
age one that hip-hop draws'' 

This year, a lot of 
the best-dressed, best- 
educated, best-spoken, 
most religious Black 
people gave quality 
time to attacking hip- 
hop. Call it giving out 
placebos for poison, or 
putting a Band-Aid on 
a bullet wound If you 
run down the list of 
Black people's top 100 problems, "gangsta rap" 
— a vague and undefined musical category — 
places aomewhcre around 439th 

While supremacy ts No 1 with a bullet White 
supremacy is the phenomenon to which hip-hop 
II Itself a reaction But none of the Black people 
publicly criticizing hip-hop. or "certain kinds of 
rap music." have, at tho same time, provided a 
succinct analysis of the white-supremacy phe- 
nomenon None has even mentioned white su- 
premacy by name Why is that'* 

In the meantime, hip-hop rockets in influence 
Why"* Because it is an artistically adventurous 
culture that makes a robusi — one would even asy 
an obvMui — critiasm of racism, and racism's un- 
compensated insult Because hip-hop is a wide and 
flexible form of communication that white record 
company and media executives, often criticized in 
the above scenarios, have shown great imagination 
in manipulating — imagination that Black people 
have not even begun to emulate 

Why"* Because hip-hop is real-ume, up-to-lhe- 
minute, high-bsnd-width This is how it works 
The vocalists — those who dramstiie violence 
on iheir records and those who don't — take the 
Ihinp that Black people see. lalk about them 
and. in doing so. make thoac things rhythmic 
Doing this. then, makes thiwc things, fur Black 
people. pertua»tue and relevartt Hip-hop is really 
s form o( prrarhtng 

This procMS doesn't cause viotence. any more 
than preaching about adultery cauaea adultery 
This process is caused by violence. It is preceded 
by centuries of white-on-Black violence thst 
black people have yet to fully men/ion, even as 
we inherit this legacy I mean, realty: If you 
were going to make a song about an existence 
where the midnight sounds of sutomatic gunHre 
riddled your dreams, what would you call that 
song'' "Betcha by Golly Wow'"* "Sketches of 
Spain'"^ "Mr Sandman'"* 

Or would you call it "TrigBa Got* No Heart'"' 
Hip-hop. says Chuck D. is 'Black peoples 
CNN " Is that why so many people keep trying 
to turn it ofT Just like with CNN, all of the 
"experu" thought hip-hop wasn't going to last, 

We are not arguing for violence No person 
should be violent except, perhaps, to stop vio- 
lence. We are not arguing for Black people call- 
ing each other "bitches." "hoes," "niggers" or 
"niggas" No one should call any person a name 
that that person doesn't want to be called. 

However, what we are arguing for is truth. 
That, and conMiMlency If you want to eliminste 
Black people's ills, you first must eliminate the 
root cause — racism, the sole expression of 
which IS white supremacy Much as ministers, 
politicians and regular folk try to get around it, 
there is no way past this obvious and glaring 

If you don't want a low Arbitron rating, play 
what your audiences want to hear when they 
want to hear it. and not /.5 years after s record- 
ed music form starts' 

If you don't want to promote violence, misogy- 
ny and profanity — aJI three — don't take ads 
for the upcoming "Beverly Hills Cop III" movie 

And if Blsck media people are against the 
things that they think might harm people 
t"g«ngsta rsp." "quote-unquote-unquote-un- 
quote"), why do they take money for pushing 
beer, mall liquor and wine, which definitely do** 
And if alcohol is a drug, why doesn't this make 
those Black media people drug dealers? 

Yet. still, they are our mothers, fathers, u.^ 
cles. aunts, brothers, sisters snd fnnds Hip-hop 
needs their knowledfte and the benefit of their 

The problem, though, is that what hip-hop 
gets most consistently from oloer. "middle-cIftM'" 
Black people in "media. " "manngemeni." "the 
public sector" and 'the clergy" is cri/i<-i»"i 
CrtUaum That, and n stiflint:. ntui^fyirxn lack of 


Anti-Defamation League, 
Washington, DC, March 4, 1994. 
Jamie Schwing, 
Committee on the Judiciary, 
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. 

Dear Jamie: Following up on our conversation earlier this week, I am writing to 
ask that the attached ADL Special Reports, "Hip to Hate: Hateful Ljoics in Rap and 
Rock," and "Sounds of Hate: Neo-Nazi Rock Music from Germany," be included in 
the record for the Subcommittee's February 23 hearing "Shaping our Responses to 
Violence and Demeaning Imagery in Popular Music." 

The Anti-Defamation League is concerned with the increasing incidence of lyrics 
conveying themes of hatred and violence in popular music. Performers who make 
use of violent, anti-Semitic, racist, and misogjTiist lyrics are not limited to relatively 
obscure neo-Nazi Skin-head bands, but now include individuals with large 
followings and lucrative record contracts — exposing millions of young people to a de- 
structive message of hate. 

We do not question the constitutional right of these performers to express them- 
selves — however offensive their beliefs. But culture has consequences — and the 
growing tolerance of racism, anti-Semitism, and violence toward women and minori- 
ties in rap and rock lyrics is a real concern. 

We very much appreciate the inclusion of these two ADL reports in the hearing 
record. We trust they will complement the testimony submitted earlier for this hear- 


Michael Lieberman, 
Associate Director / Counsel. 

An ADL Special Report 

hip to hate 

Hateful lyrics in rap and rock 


Rock-and-roll music, like other forms of cultural and artistic expression, has often 
been associated with the freeing of the individual from social convention. In the 
1950's, performers such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley 
opened new cultural paths and possibilities in the midst of social conformity. In the 
60's, such musical styles as folk, soul, and rock reflected changing attitudes toward 
Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. For the most part, the popular music of today 
maintains this spirit of creative exuberance and cultural pluralism. 

Recently, however, there have been notable and disturbing instances in which cer- 
tain performers have exhibited the most stifling and unimaginative mindset of all, 
by conforming to notions and forces of bigotry, violence and hate. Make no mistake: 
the performers discussed in this report £ire not obscure neo-Nazi Skin-head bands 
performing for tiny audiences and recording for little-known labels. Guns 'n Roses, 
PubUc Enemy, Ice Cube, Sister Souljah, and the other groups featured here have 
immense followings, enjoy lucrative record contracts, and receive generous coverage 
on radio and television. Whether their popularity has grown because of or in spite 
of their forays into prejudice, they have been allowed — and perhaps even encour- 
aged — to expose millions of young people to this destructive message. It is their con- 
stitutional right to express themselves no matter how offensive their beliefs are. But 
it is also the right — indeed a moral obligation — for those who abhor and unequivo- 
cally reject hatred to expose and denounce such poisonous messages in whatever 
form they are spread. 

In this spirit, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith presents the following 

It seems that some aspects of pop culture have become toxic. Words, images and 
ideas conveying anti-Semitism as well as hostility toward minorities and women, 
formerly the domain of the gutter or the extreme right, have begun to seep into 
mainstream culture to find surprising acceptance and legitimacy — with unfortunate 
consequences for their targets and for the social atmosphere of our nation. Recent 
years have seen an escalating trend toward popularizing these themes by heavy 


metal and rap music groups such as Guns 'n Roses, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and 
N.W.A. ("Niggers With Attitude"). 

In 1990, Madonna issued a remix of a single named "The Beast Within" which 
says, "I know your tribulations and your poverty, and the slander of those who say 
they are Jews. They are not. They are a synagogue of Satan." The release of that 
record may have been more than coincidental with the vandalizing of three syna- 
gogues and a high school in Ventura County, California, with anti-Semitic graffiti 
referring to Revelations 2:0, the New Testament passage quoted by Madonna, that 
has been the basis of centuries-old anti-Semitic animus. 

Other music groups have popularized themes of sexual violence, racism 
homophobia, suicide and drugs. The heavy metal band Guns 'n Roses sets xeno- 
phobia to music in a song called "One in a Million." The song includes the verse: 
'Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/They come to our country/And 
think they'll do as they please/Like start some mini-Iran or spread some [expletive] 
disease." A recent recording by rap group 2 Live Crew describes, with apparent ap- 
proval, violent sexual assaiHts on women. 

Professor Griff and Public Enemy 

Professor Griff, the former "Minister of Information" (but not an on-stage per- 
former) for the highly popular group Public Enemy, came to public attention in May 
1989, when he gave an interview to the Washington Times. In that interview. Pro- 
fessor Griff said, among many other things, that Jews are responsible for "the ma- 
jority of wickedness that goes on across the globe" ; that Jews "have a grip on Amer- 
ica" ; and that Jews "have a history of killing Black men." He also saia "Is it a coin- 
cidence that Jews run the jewelry business, and it's named ^'eit^elry? " According to 
the Washington Times (May 29, 1989), "Professor Griffs belief in a worldwide Jew- 
ish conspiracy is based partly on notorious, decades-old anti-Semitic texts such as 
The International Jew by Henry Ford — which are available in Muslim bookstores — 
and on taperecorded speeches deUvered at Farrakhan's Chicago headquarters by 
Steve Cokely, the Black nationalist and conspiracy theorist." The Times also re- 
ported that Griff said: "The Jews can come against me. They can send the IRS after 
me. They can send their faggot little hit men. I mean, that don't move me." The 
Times reporter wrote that he "asked why The International Jew was among the 
many books and pamphlets the members of Public Enemy had stacked on a table 
for my visit to their headquarters." James Norman, a member of the Public Enemy 
group, replied: "Don't get hung up on this one book. We're studious people. We 
study. And this just happens to be a book that we've read." 

On June 29, 1989, Pubhc Enemy announced that it had disbanded. Shortly before 
this, the group said it had fired Professor Griff. This breakup would prove to be 
short-lived; Public Enemy re-established its relationship with Professor Griff shortly 
afterwards. In 1990 Griff was again fired by PubUc Enemy, and has not rejoined 
the group since. 

Public Enemy, whose records have sold millions of copies, are devoted fans of 
Louis Farrakhan, and lyrics of their songs have praised him. One of the group's 
members, Chuck D., raps in "Bringing the Noise : "Farrakhan's a prophet and I 
think you ought to listen toAVhat he can say to you, what you ought to do." 

Farrakhan s continuing impact on Public Enemy was reflected in another song, 
"Welcome to the Terrordome," released in December 1989. The New York Times 
commented on December 27, 1989: 

Its [Public Enemy's] response to a controversy last summer over anti-Se- 
mitic statements by its "minister of information has now appeared in lyrics 
from its new single, 'Welcome to the Terrordome," that also seems to cross 
the line into anti-Semitism. 

The lyrics include "Told the rab, 'get off the rag,'" and: 

Crucifixion ain't no fiction 
So-called chosen, frozen 
Apology made to whoever pleases 
Still they got me like Jesus. 

Interpretation: Told the rabbi to stop complaining; the Jews ("so-called chosen") 
have crucified Public Enemy. 

On August 12, 1989, The New York Times reported that despite its announced in- 
tention to disband, Pubhc Enemy had played tour dates in August, and that Profes- 
sor Griff, who had been fired, had been rehired by the group. His new position was 
as the group's liaison to the Black community. Chuck D. Ridenhour, Pubhc Enemy's 
songwriter and main rapper, said: "Griff is not anti-Semitic; he hangs out with 
Falasha Jews from Ethiopia damn near every other month." 


Juan Williams disclosed "Music's ugly new trend: racism, sexism and gay-bash- 
ing," in an article in The Washington Post on October 15, 1989. The article stated 
that "In a June news conference. Chuck D. of Public Enemy excused the anti-Semi- 
tism of Professor Griffs comments by explaining the group is 'not anti -Jewish, anti- 
anyone — we are pro-Black.' This failed logic, which equated pro-Black stance with 
bigotry toward whites and particularly Jews, has been allowed to flourish by the ab- 
sence of outcry from Black civil rights groups." 

A major controversy erupted at Columbia University in February, 1990, when 
Professor Griff was invited by the Black Students Organization to deliver a speech 
at the university. The student group said it issued the invitation because "it consid- 
ered Mr. Griffin (GriflTs real name) an important force in Black America." {New York 
Times, Feb. 8, 1990) GrifPs appearance was closed to the press. 

Since the appearance of "Welcome to the Terrordome," there have been no further 
instances of anti-Semitism in Public Enemy IjTics. 

On May 12, 1990, the Black newspaper New York Voice reported that Professor 
Griff had been severed again from Public Enemy after a recent altercation with a 
white rapper from the group 3rd Bass. Griff reportedly called the rapper a "faggot 
Jew bastard." Griff has not appeared with Public Enemy since that time, and has 
been making speaking engagements on his own around the country. 

Professor Griff appeared at Southern Connecticut State University on February 
22, 1991. His speech included a twenty-minute anti-Semitic diatribe about "Jewish 
control." In July 1991, Griff was the featured speaker at the Cincinnati Black Book 
Fair. He stated it was a "fact" that "white people have made it with animals and 
monkeys in the caves of Europe." Griff said, "Jewish doctors, along with Russian 
and American doctors, got together and invented the AIDS virus in a laboratory." 

Ice cube 

Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) is a highly popular rap singer who was prominently 
featured in the recent film "Boyz 'N the Hood." His most recent album, "Death Cer- 
tificate," which was released in November 1991, has been widely criticized for its 
anti-Semitic, anti-Korean, anti-gay and anti-women lyrics. The trade newspaper of 
the music industry. Billboard, in an unusual editorial in November 1991, stated that 
Ice Cube's "unabashed espousal of violence against Koreans, Jews and other whites 
crosses the line that divides art from the advocacy of crime." 

In a song called "Black Korea," Ice Cube warns: 

So don't follow me up and down yovu" market/or your little chop suey ass 
will be a target/So pay your respect to the Black fist/or we'll burn your store 
right down to a crisp. 

In another song aimed apparently at the Jewish manager of Ice Cube's former 
group, NWA, Ice Cube writes in "No Vaseline" : 

* * * Get rid of that devil, real simple/put a bullet in his temple/cause 
you can't be the nigger for life crewAVith a white Jew telling you what to 

The New York Times reported in November 1991 that the packaging of the albvun 
"urges young Blacks to join the Nation of Islam and shows Ice Cube reading a news- 
paper with the headline 'Unite or Perish.' " The Times wrote: 

In "Black Korea," his revenge against Asian shopkeepers who are sus- 
picious of their ghetto customers is to suggest a nationwide boycott and, as 
a bonus, arson * * * a corpse with a toe tag reading "Uncle Sam" is on the 
cover. "Horny Lil' Devil," a rant against miscegenation, goes out of its way 
to derogate white women and threatens to kill white men who desire Black 
women ♦ * *. The worst insult Ice Cube can think of * * * is to call some- 
one a homosexual. 



Professor Griff— Public Enemy 

Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the 
globe." (newspaper interview) 

Told the rab, 'get off the rag,' Crucifixion ain't no fiction 
So-called chosen, frozen 
Apology made to whoever pleases 
Still they got me like Jesus. 


Is it a coincidence that the Jews run the jewelry business, and it's named jew- 
elry? " (newspaper interview) 

Axl Rose — Guns n' Roses 

Police and niggers, that's right/Get outta my way/Don't need to buy none/ 
Of your gold chains today. 

Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/they come to our 
country/And they think they'll do as they please/Like start some mini-Iran 
or spread some mckin' disease. 

I used to love her but I had to kill her 

I had to put her six feet under 

I can still hear her complain. 

Ice Cube 

Get rid of that devil, real simple 

Put a bullet in his temple 

'Cause you can't be a nigga41ife crew 

With a white Jew telling you what to do. 


I know your tribulations and your poverty, and the slander of those who 
say they are Jews. They are not. They are a synagogue of Satan. 


Evil E was out cooling with a freak one night 

Fucked the bitch with a flashlight 

Pulled it out, left the batteries in 

So he could get a charge when he begins 

Used his dick, the shit was tight 

Bitch's titties started-blinking like taiil lights 

Rolled her over to change the connection 

Bitch's ugly face cold spoiled his erection. 

2 Live Crew 

You sissy motherfucker, you ought to stop singing * * * and spreading 


To sum up: It is unclear to what degree today's youth buys into our pop culture's 
growing tolerance of anti-Semitism, racism and violence toward women and minori- 
ties. But young people seeking role models and peer acceptance are vulnerable tar- 
gets for the purveyors of these cynical, hateful messages. 

Sounds of Hate 
Neo-Nazi rock music from Germany 


Murders, beatings, synagogue vandalism: neo-Nazi Skin-heads i have left their 
mark in the form of criminal acts in every community in which they have appeared. 
Skin-heads have been convicted or pled guilty to thirteen homicides in the United 
States in the past four vears and two are presently awaiting trial in connection with 
still another killing. 2 Tney have also committed hundreds of assaults and other vio- 
lent crimes. Their victims have been members of racial and religious minorities, ho- 
mosexuals, immigrants, foreign tourists, and other Skin-heads. 

The essential facts about neo-Nazi Skin-heads in the United States are as follows: 

• Beginning with a mere handful of adherents in the mid-80's, they now number 
approximately 3,000 activists in 34 states. Their organizing efforts are increas- 
ingly centered around high schools, where they have been enlisting younger and 
younger recruits. They have also been acquiring more deadly weapons — pistols. 

iNot all Skin-heads are racists or neo-Nazis yet those who are not may be indistinguishable 
in appearance from those who are. When the term "Skin-head" is employed in this report unless 
otherwise indicated, it refers solely to those whose racist and anti-Semitic activities make them 
a matter of concern to the Anti-Defamation league. 

2 See Appendix B, page 8. 


rifles and semi-automatic machine guns — to add to their store of knives, chains 
and baseball bats. 

• Their ideology is a brew of xenophobia, racial and religious bigotry, hatred of 
homosexuals, the glorification of violence, and admiration of Adolf Hitler and 
the Third Reich. 

• Their heads are usually shaven or closely cropped, their bodies decorated with 
racist tattoos, and they wear wide braces (suspenders) and heavy steel-toed 
"Doc Marten" boots — a get-up designed to look menacing. 

• They have no central organization, but operate in gangs, some loosely combined 
in regional networks with names like Confederate Hammer Skins, Northern 
Hammer Skins, American Front, Bootboys, White Vikings and United Skins. 
They have also been linking up increasingly with older hate groups: the Ku 
Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance and the Church of the Cre- 

• A central ingredient of the Skin-heads' lifestyle and their principal propaganda 
weapon is a type of hard-driving rock music known as "White Power' or "Oi" 
music. The music is, in fact, their chief means of promoting the Skin-head mes- 
sage, both to themselves and the outside world. 


Germany is the chief source of the neo-Nazi Skin-head music that encourages vio- 
lence and racism among America's youth. In Europe, the same music has served to 
incite Skin-head violence against foreign immigrants and other minority groups. The 
leading Skin-head bands are British, but the company that manufactures most of 
the Skin-head records, tapes and compact discs sold in the United States and world- 
wide is a German firm, Rock-0-Rama, located at Kaiserstrasse 119, Bruhl, D-5040, 
telephone: 011-49-2232-22584. The firm's distribution arm for domestic and world- 
wide sales is Independent Schallplaten-Vertrieb (ISV), Altebvirger Str. 194, Cologne, 
telephone: 011-49-221-372489. Rock-0-Rama's chief executive officer is Herbert 
Egoldt. Its catalogue offers for sale virtually every Skin-head record on the market, 
many of which it produces itself, others that it simply sells. Rock-0-Rama records 
are available in most large U.S. cities in record shops that carry imports and y)e- 
cialty labels, and from some Skin-head bands and racist propaganda outlets. The 
German government has permitted Rock-0-Rama's hate-spewing records to be man- 
ufactured and exported freely even though German law forbids the production or 
dissemination of neo-Nazi and racist propaganda. 3 The law was adopted following 
World War II to help prevent the resurrection of Nazism in Germany. 


Music is central to the world of the Skin-heads. The "White Power" songs they 
listen to over and over again din their heads with racial and religious bigotry; the 
lyrics tell them they are heroic warriors fighting for race and nation. No other 
means of communication — neither the spoken or written word — compares with mu- 
sic's influence on their outlook and behavior. There are, infact, no SMn-head news- 
papers or magazines. In contrast to the large number of "Oi" records available, the 
only Skin-head pubHcations are a few crude, sporadic newsletters, called 
"skinzines"— which offer mainly news about Skin-head bands and their recordings. 

Skin-heads also conduct no meetings or conventions. When they get together, 
most often it's to listen to recorded or live music at one of their "pads" or pt a club, 
or to engage in street demonstrations. Major gatherings are occasional "festivals" 
featuring Skin-head bands and slam dancing. Swastika-emblazoned banners deco- 
rate the bandstands while Skin-heads, arms outstretched, shout "Sieg Heil!" and 
"White Power! " Such festivals have been held in this country in California, Okla- 
homa and Pennsylvania. In Europe they have been held in Germany, England, Bel- 
gium, France and Italy. 

Music, of course, has a special power to arouse raw emotions, which is why totali- 
tarian movements of the far-right and far-left have historically made much use of 
it as a propaganda weapon. For today's Skin-heads, rock music also serves as the 
chief means of attracting and integrating young recruits into their ranks. Absorbing 
bigotry through music makes the process a pleasurable ejcperience of sorts. 

Ed Wolbank is the director of the neo-Nazi Northern Hammer Skins in St. Paul 
Minnesota, and leader of the Skin-head band Bound for Glory, which has been re- 

3 Section 131 of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch. StGB) outlaws incitement to ra- 
cial hatred. Sections 86 and 86a, StGB, render punishable the dissemination of Nazi propaganda 
and the use of Nazi symbols. Sections 74d and 94 of the code of criminal procedure allow 
confiscation of such material. 


corded by Rock-0-Rama. Asked by the skinzine Ultimatum, "How can we reach the 
youth with our message? " he repHed, "Music, Music is the number one. It's the best 
way to reach people. Through music people can start getting into the scene, then 
you can start educating them. Politics through music." 

There is also a nexus linking Skin-head music, alcohol and violence. Courtroom 
testimony in a number of Skin-nead criminal trials indicates that their violence fol- 
lowed heavy beer drinking while listening to "White Power" records. 


The character of Skin-head records is obvious from the titles listed in Rock-0- 
Rama's catalogue: The New Storm Troopers; Take the Sword; Reich n' Roll; Johnny 
Joined the Klan; Fetch the Rope; White Rider; White Warrior; Fists of Steel; Head 
Kicked In; Blood and Honour. 

The lyrics deliver what the titles promise. Some songs lament Germany's defeat 
in World War II; others pay tribute to the late imprisoned Nazi Rudolf Hess and 
the British fascist leader Oswald Moseley. Most simply preach anti-Semitism, rac- 
ism and violence. The following are excerpts from songs by several of the most popu- 
lar Skin-head bands, all recorded by Rock-0-Rama: 

We were the country that had everything 

We were the country. Rule Britannia we would sing 

We were the country, and we could never lose. 

Once a nation, and now we're run by Jews 

We want our country back now 

The sands of time are running out for this land 

It's time the people stood and raised their hands 

It's time we drove out the traitors we can see 

Now is the time this nation should be free, free my land. 

From "Free my Land" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

You feel love for your people, 

Disdain for the fools. 

The enemies led by the Zionist tools, 

You fight for your race which shall be proud and free. 

The only reward that you crave is victorj'. 

From "White Rider" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

They come here to this country, from the jungles and the trees 

The traitors in the parliament, give them a better deal 

Spend the nation's money to cater to their needs 

They all accept our chairity, then bite the hand that feeds. 

Our forefathers fought in two world wars, they thought to keep us free, 

But I'm not sure that in those wars, who was our enemy 

The Zionists own the media, and they're well known for telling lies, 

And I could see, that I could be, we fought on the wrong side. 

From "Before the Night Falls" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Read the papers, watch TV, hear the media lie to me, 

On the radio, in the news, you 're all wrong except the Jews, 

Doesn't matter who loses face, if it's against the chosen race 

From "If You're White" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Half our fathers fought for freedom, you see. 

At least that's what they led me to believe. 

So how come our nation's overrun, 

By alien cultures, the cultures of the Zionist scum 

From "European Unity" 
Band: Brutal Attack 

Political fools with media tools 

We are led by Zionist rules. 

Who's the biggest boss at the top of the cross? 

Does he care tour culture is lost? 

The future looks bleak for the racially weak 


And all you cowards with the yellow streak 

From "When the Hammer Falls" 
Band: Bound for Glory 

Zionist illusions state of confusions 

Are decaying away my mind, 

Feelings of hate can't get it straight, 

Am I the only one of my kind? 

Massive inflation by the racial infestation 

Has turned our streets to decay, 

Racial domination, swift termination 

Has become the only way 

Close the border, start the New Order 

Gather your guns, it's time to fight, 

A call to arms! 

From "A Call To Arms" 
Band: Bound for Glory 

I'm the raciad highlord, the God of Blood, 

Shore defender from the race of mud,^ 

The black beast slayer, I'm the new clan chief 


New sphere mover, great stormtrooper. 

Life controller, I'm the fate dictator 

From "Fate Dictator" 
Band: No Remorse 

As the heat soars, in the coming wars. 

We'll fight 'til death for our noble cause, 

We'll seek the red, and cut off his head. 

With hammer and gun, we're free from dread. 


One nation, one race 

One folk, one faith 

From "One Folk-One Faith" 
Band: No Remorse 


Peppered throughout Rock-0-Rama's Skin-head recordings are passages glorifying 
violence and inciting street warfare: 

Out of the smoke, our blood stained battalions fry 
We charge at the enemy, no one unwilling to die 

From "We Fight for Freedom" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Fighting in the city, it's a matter of life and death 

It's as easy as black & white, you'll fight to your last breath 

From "White Warriors" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

We're attacked behind our backs, we're doing all we can 
If the knife should take our life, at least we never ran 

From "Mean Streets" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Soccer season starts again, were going to hit the violent trail 

From "One Fine Day" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

We live on the streets now, we fight for our lives. 
We fight for the flag, we're all willing to die 

From "Flying the flag" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

4 "Mud race" is a favorite hate movement term for people of color. 


Strikeforce, white survival, strikeforce 
Strikeforce kills all rivals 

From "Strike Force" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

We will fight against them with a hammer and a gun 

And when our people start to rise, the traitors' time will come 

From "Power from Profit" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Are we going to sit and let them come, 
Have they got the White man on the run? 
The multi-racial society is a mess 
We aren't going to take much more of this 

From "White Power" 
Band: Skrewdriver 

Do you remember 

Storm troojpin' through the night? 

The beer! 'The women! 

And all those glorious fights 

From "The Spirit lives on" 
Band: Bound for Glory 

Swords will clash, when we fight their trash 
We strike hard, as a lightning flash 

From "One Folk-One Faith" 
Band: No Remorse 

As noted earlier, Rock-0-Rama is the leading manufacturer and distributor of 
Skin-head records in the world. Its catalogue lists albums and singles of "Oi" groups 
in the United States, England, France, Germany, Sweden and Australia. The music 
has the same affect in otner countries as it does here — the incitement of racial vio- 
lence. Germany in particular, has been plagued recently by a serious rise of such 
incidents. There has, in fact, been more Nazi violence of late in Germany than at 
any time since the end of World War II. The German government plainly has a spe- 
cial moral responsibility to help curb the rise of this growing worldwide menace. 
One important way in which it can do so is by enforcing its own anti-Nazi laws 
against Rock-O-Rama records. The Anti-Defamation league urges that it do so with- 
out delay. 

Appendix A 


United Kingdom 


PubUc Enemy 


No Remorse 

The Klansmen 


Bruted Attack 

Oi PoUoi 

Carry On Oi 


Boots and Braces 

Indecent Exposure 


Ian Stuart and Strikeforce 


Sudden Impact 

Elite Terror 

The Mad Hatters 

5 Not all the records listed are necessarily manufactured by Rock-O-Rama, although most are. 
Some are produced elsewhere and distributed by ROR and ISV. 


I II nil " 


3 9999 05983 095 8 

Condemned 84 



Bohse Onkelz 



Die Alluerten 






Chauves Pourris 
Legion SS 
Brutal Combat 
Warrior Kids 
Evil Skins 

United States 

New Glory 
Bound for Glory 
Kicker Boys 
Anti Heroes 
Doc Marten 
Arresting Officers 


White Noise 


Ultima Thule 

Appendix B 


1. Clearwater, Florida — Isaiah Walker, a 41-year-old black man, was stabbed to 
death in December 1987 by two Skin-head brothers, members of a Skin-head gang 
called the Saints. Dean McKee, 16 at the time of the killing, was convicted of mur- 
der and sentenced to imprisonment for life; Scott McKee, 18 at the time of the kill- 
ing, pleaded no contest to attempted murder and was sentenced to five years. 

2. San Jose, California — Scott VoUmer, a 24-year-old white man, was stabbed to 
death in February 1988 by Skin-head Michael Elrod after VoUmer came to the de- 
fense of a black friend at a party. Elrod, who was 19 at the time of the killing, was 
convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 11 years in prison. 

3. Portland, Oregon — Mulugeta Seraw, a 27-year-ola Ethiopian immigrant, was 
beaten to death by three members of the Portland Skin-head gang East Side White 
Pride in November 1988. Kenneth Mieske (a.k.a. Ken Death), 23 at the time of the 
murder, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Kyle 
Brewster, who was 19 when Seraw was killed, was convicted of manslaughter and 
received 20 years to life. Steven Strasser, 20 at the time of the killing, also was con- 
victed of manslaughter and received 20 years. In a subsequent civil lawsuitbrought 
by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center in behalf of 
Seraw's family, a jury determined that the Skin-heads had been incited to commit 
the crime by White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger and his son, John. A 
$12.5 million judgment for Seraw's family was awarded on October 22, 1990. 

4. Reno Nevada — Anthony Lee Montgomery, a 27-year-old black man, was the vic- 
tim of a drive-by shooting committed by Skin-heads who were looking for a black 
target. Convicted of first-degree murder and other related charges in the December 
1988 killing were Matthew D. Faessel, who was 18 when the shooting took place, 
and Michael Scott Stringer, 17 at the time of the murder. They each received two 
life sentences plus 18 years. Angela Marie Stanley, also 17 at the time of the mur- 
der, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years. The 


Reno Skins, to which the three teens belonged, were afflhated with the American 

5. Denver, Colorado — David Timoner, 33, a hairstylist, was shot to death by Skin- 
heads in March 1989. Maxwell Thomas, 18 when he killed Timoner, was convicted 
of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, aggravated robbery and second- 
degree arson. (After killing Timoner, Thomas torched the victim's vehicle with his 
body still in it.) Thomas was sentenced to life plus 73 years. Michael Diaz, 18 when 
the murder took place, testified against Thomas and received the minimum 24-year 
sentence for second-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping. 

6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-Charles B. Davis, 47, a social worker and University 
of Pittsburgh doctoral candidate, was stomped to death by two Skin-heads in August 
1989. James D. Brough, 21 years old at the time of the killing, was convicted of 
first-degree murder, roblsery and conspiracy; he received a mandatory life sentence 
with no possibility of parole. Richard Gribble, 19 when the murder was committed, 
pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to five to 20 years. Brough and Gribble 
have played in local racist Skin-head rock bands, including one called First Strike. 
In its song "Modern Age," the band glorifies the sort of violence that. Brough and 
Gribble committed against Davis: "Violence is the way I was bred to be * * *A'^io- 
lence killed the commies, violence killed the JewsA'^iolence killed the Japs, and it 
will sure as hell kill you." 

7. Boulder, Colorado — Norman Dale Hillier, a 22-year-old member of the Hammer 
Skins, was beaten to death in July 1990 by four fellow Hammer Skins for his boots 
and a small amount of cash. Jeffrey Paul Jucszel (a.k.a. Jeff Greszik), 25 when the 
murder was committed, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced 
to 27 years. Steven J. Waltman, 18 at the time of the killing, and Charles Kenneth 
Rooks, then 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges and were both sentenced 
to two to eight years. Walter Allen McDonald, 17 at the time of the murder, pleaded 
guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to five years, the maximum sen- 
tence for juvenile offenders. 

8. New York, New York — JuUo Rivera, a 29-year-old gay man, was beaten on the 
head with a hammer and stabbed to death in July 1990, in the Jackson Heights 
section of Queens. The men charged in the case have been linked by the police to 
a Skin-head group called the Doc Marten Stompers. Daniel Doyle, 20 when Rivera 
was killed, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and received a sentence of 
eight and a third to 25 years in prison. Esat Bici, 18 at the time of the killing, and 
Erik Brown, then 20, were convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to Ufe. 
The police have classified the case as bias-related because of the victim's sexual 
preference, and the prosecution charged that the men sought out gay people to at- 

9. Houston. Texas — Hung Truong, a 15-year-old Vietnamese boy, was stomped to 
death by two Skin-heads in August 1990. Derek Ian Hilla was convicted of murder, 
sentenced to 45 years, and fined $10,000. Kevin Michael Allison, who was convicted 
of involuntary manslaughter, received 10 years and a $10,000 fine. Both Skin-heads 
were 18 when Truong was killed. Because Hilla was found by the jury to have used 
a deadly weapon (his booted feet), he must serve at least one-fourth of his sentence 
before becoming eligible for parole. 

10. Vancouver, Washington — 19-year-old racist Skin-head David Richard Lindley 
(a.k a. Bomber Dave) was bludgeoned to death in August 1990 for his boots and his 
jacket. His attackers were four members of the Malicious Oi Boy's, or MOB, a fac- 
tion of the American Front Skin-head gang to which Lindley belonged. Richard Scott 
Houston, 20 at the time of the killing, and Timothy Lee Chase (a.k.a. Nicholas War- 
ren Jones), then 17 were each sentenced to 141 months for second-degree murder. 
Mark Elliott Stevenson, 17 when Lindley was killed, was sentenced to 123 months. 
MeUssa McEathron, 13 at the time of the killing, was convicted as an accomplice 
to manslaughter in the first-degree and sentenced to 224 weeks in a juvenile institu- 
tion plus one year parole. 

11. Sacramento, California — Paul Carrallo, 20, a non-racist Skin-head, was fatally 
stabbed in August 1990 by Skin-head Michael "Iron Cross" Ortiz, a member of the 
Sacramento Skins. The stabbing took place during a fight between rival Skin-head 
factions in the parking lot of Beau's Disco & Lounge, also known as the Cattle Club, 
Ortiz, 20 when he killed Carrallo, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sen- 
tenced to nine years in prison. 

12. Chester County Pennsylvania — Lee Russell Murdock, a 28-year-old 
Coatesville, Pa., gutter installer, was murdered on October 12, 1990 by a Skin-head 
angered because Murdock had taunted him about his appearance. When Murdock 
left the bar where the verbal confrontation occurred, he was beaten with a crowbar, 
kicked in the head and face, and stabbed to death by Skin-head Timothy Kleinfelter, 


19, and his companion Chris Bocelli, 22. Kleinfelter and Bocelli were convicted of 
first-degree murder by a Chester County jury. 

13. Arlington, Texas — Donald Thomas, a 32-year-old black man, was killed by 
Skin-heads in a drive-by shooting in June 1991. Thomas was sitting in the back of 
a pick-up truck with two white friends in southeast Arlington when he was killed 
by a blast from a 16-gauge shotgun fired from a passing car. The three white male 
youths charged in the shooting are said by police to be members of the Confederate 
Hammer Skins; all were 16 at the time. One teen pleaded guilty to a juvenile delin- 
quency charge of murder. The two others are to be tried as adults: Christopher Wil- 
ham Brosky on one count of murder and one count of engaging in organized crime, 
and William George "Trey" Roberts III, believed to have pulled the trigger. PoUce 
classify the crime as a random racial shooting. 

14. Port Arthur f Texas — Charles E. Sides, a 36-year-old white man who was un- 
dergoing treatment for mental illness, was found stabbed to death on October 7, 
1991. Sides had been stabbed more than 15 times, and his ear was partially sev- 
ered. Two 17-year- old Skin-heads, Darrel Ray Hughes and Arron Lee Malone, are 
charged with murder in the case. The evidence against them is strong, and one has 
discussed the kiUing with the press. Police beUeve the two committed the crime in 
order to prove themselves as Skin-heads. 


The Anti-Defamation League has monitored the neo-Nazi Skin-heads since they 
first appeared on the American scene in 1984. The League has issued five reports 
on the phenomenon, emphasizing that communities must be informed about Skin- 
head activities and be ready to counter them through education and vigorous law 
enforcement. We have met with former United States Attorney General Dick 
Thomburgh, other officials of the Department of Justice and many state and local 
law enforcement officers, alerting them to this growing menace. The Justice Depart- 
ment has formed a special task force which has successfully prosecuted Skin-head 
gangs in several cities. ADL, in cooperation with the Southern Povertjr Law Center, 
brought a successful civil lawsuit in Oregon in behalf of the family of an Ethiopian 
immigrant who had been murdered by Skin-heads. The jury awarded the family 
$12V2 million, to be paid mainlv by Tom Metzger, a California white supremacist 
leader who incited the Skin-heads to commit the crime. 

ADL was founded in 1913. Its mission is "To stop the defamation of the Jewish 
people; to secvu"e justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike." 

Tne League monitors and exposes extremist and hate organizations to public scru- 
tiny. Its annual audit measures and analyzes incidents of violence, vandalism and 
harassment against Jews and Jewish property throughout the nation. The ADL 
audit has been used as a reference tool by the FBI, which is responsible for imple- 
menting the recently-enacted Federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act. 

The resources of law and the mechanism of the courts are regularly employed by 
the League to halt reUgious or racial discrimination and to challenge violations of 
constitutional rights. 

ADL alerts and sensitizes the public to its findings through cooperation with the 
media, educators, legislators and law enforcement authorities. Its 30 regional offices 
mobilize the communities thee serve for effective education and peaceful counter- 
action against extremist and racist activities by the far-right and far-lefl. 

The collapse of Communism in central and eastern Europe and the effort to build 
democracj^ and free market economies there offer great promise, but a resurrected 
anti-Semitism abroad and increasing violence bom of bigotry here at home require 
steady vigilance and vigorous counteraction. 

These and other issues constitute ADL's agenda in this last decade of the 20th 

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